Nation Digest

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Afghan Excluded From Court Ruling

A federal judge who issued a groundbreaking order allowing military detainees in Afghanistan to go to U.S. civilian courts to challenge their confinement said Monday that the right does not apply to an Afghan prisoner.

U.S. District Judge John Bates's ruling means the United States can continue to detain Haji Wazir indefinitely at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Court documents say he has been in U.S. custody since he was captured in the United Arab Emirates in 2002.

In April, Bates had allowed three foreign detainees at Bagram who had been captured outside Afghanistan to challenge their detention in his court to prevent the United States from being able to "move detainees physically beyond the reach of the Constitution and detain them indefinitely." The government has appealed Bates's decision.

-- Associated Press


Obama Encourages Progress on Accord

President Obama said he has instructed Trade Representative Ron Kirk to begin working closely with Colombian President Álvaro Uribe's team on "how we can proceed" to gain congressional approval of a trade accord.

"There are obvious difficulties involved in the process, and there remains work to do," Obama said of the stalled U.S.- Colombia Free Trade Agreement. "But I'm confident that ultimately we can strike a deal that is good for the people of Colombia and good for the people of the United States."

Colombia's human rights record has been a top concern among members of Congress and Obama's administration. Labor unions and many Democratic lawmakers say there is a history of unpunished violence against trade-union organizers in Colombia.

-- Bloomberg News

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