Key Rulings on Detainee Rights

Monday, December 3, 2007; 5:47 PM

Nov. 13, 2001: President Bush signs an order authorizing military commissions to try aliens linked to international terrorism for war crimes.

Jan. 18, 2002: President Bush declares detainees are not eligible for prisoner-of-war protection under the Geneva Conventions.

June 28, 2004: Supreme Court rules 6 to 3 that detainees can challenge their captivity in federal court.

July 7, 2004: In response, the Pentagon creates special military tribunals to determine each detainee's "enemy combatant" status.

Nov. 8, 2004: U.S. District Judge James Robertson orders the Pentagon to halt the trial an alleged al-Qaeda member tried under the new military comission, ruling that the comissions are neither lawful nor proper.

July 15, 2005: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upholds Bush's powers to create military commissions, overturning Robertson.

Dec. 30, 2005: Bush signs the Detainee Treatment Act, which prevents the captives from filing habeas corpus petitions.

June 29, 2006: Supreme Court rules 5 to 3 that the military commission system violates U.S. and international law and that the Geneva Conventions apply to the detainees. (Opinion)

Sept. 28, 2006: In reaction to the ruling, Congress passes a new Military Commissions Act, landmark changes to the nation's system of interrogating and prosecuting terrorism suspects, legalizing the military commissions and to clarifying interrogation techniques that CIA officers may use on terrorism suspects considered "unlawful enemy combatants."

Feb. 9, 2007: The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules that the Military Comissions Act strips detainees of the right to habeas corpus.

April 3, 2007: The Supreme Court refuses to consider new questions about the rights of detainees, rejecting an appeal by inmates challenging their imprisonment as "enemy combatants."

June 29, 2007: The Supreme Court reverses itself and agrees to consider whether detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been unfairly barred from the federal courts by the Bush administration and Congress.

SOURCES: Staff reports, court documents, Defense Department The Washington Post

© 2008 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive