Sonia R. Farber

Forgotten at Guantanamo: The Boumediene Decision and Its Implications for Refugees at the Base under the Obama Administration

On January 22, 2009, newly inaugurated President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order calling for the closure of Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in response to longstanding criticisms of the Bush Administration‘s Guantánamo policy. The Order requires review of detention and prompt disposition of all cases involving Guantánamo detainees. It was meticulously drafted to apply to all “individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense in facilities at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base whom the Department of Defense has ever determined to be, or treated as, enemy combatants.” The Order attempts to bring U.S. policy into compliance with both international law and domestic law, invoking the detainee protections of both the Geneva Conventions and U.S. domestic law. It also acknowledges the momentous 2008 decision Boumediene v. Bush, in which the Supreme Court held that the right to constitutional habeas extends to alleged enemy combatant detainees at Guantánamo, and that it does so by virtue of de facto U.S. sovereignty over the territory.