The Supreme Court has ordered the Bush administration to defend the secrecy in lower courts’ proceedings involving one of the 1,200 Arab and Muslim men detained after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Washington Post says the court asked Solicitor General Theodore Olson to respond to a Florida resident’s claim that courts violated the Constitution when they kept the existence of his case confidential.
The Post says that the court’s order suggests that justices are “keeping a watchful eye on the government’s legal approach to the war on terrorism.” The court had turned down a request from media organizations to rule on the constitutionality of the administration’s policy of secret immigration-court proceedings in terrorism-related cases.
The new case involves Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel, 34, an Algerian immigrant. His attorneys told the court that, “The facts of [his] case would make a significant contribution to the national debate about the detention and treatment of Middle Eastern persons and there is no legitimate government interest in permitting court-suppression of his ordeal.”
Bellahouel, a waiter at a Miami Middle Eastern restaurant, was detained on a visa violation in October 2001 and then turned over to the FBI as a material witness in the Sept. 11 hijacking investigation.