The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday against the Bush administration will not shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center. But by concluding that detainees can appeal their detention in US civilian courts, the high court stripped away its reason for being, erasing the government's claim that an offshore prison was beyond US law. The New York Times looks at both the legal and the military implications of the ruling.
Nineteen war crimes cases are under way at Guantanamo, but the habeas corpus suits that the prisoners may now file will give lawyers a mechanism to stop the trials. Just as important, though, is the increased burden on prosecutors: instead of fighting each case, the administration might end up sending detainees back home. Several lawyers said yesterday that the population at Guantánamo could shrink by a third or more.