Appeals court delays Gitmo genital search ban

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court is allowing the U.S. government to continue genital searches of Guantanamo Bay detainees — at least temporarily.

A three-judge panel of the court Wednesday granted the Obama administration’s emergency motion for a temporary delay in enforcing U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth’s order banning the practice.

Detainee lawyers say the searches began after prisoners were told they would have to travel from their resident camp to another site at the base to meet with or talk on the telephone with their lawyers. The lawyers say some detainees had refused to make the trip because of the new searches.

In court papers, the government argued that Lamberth’s order would weaken security at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba by making it harder to prevent smuggling of contraband. And it said that the ruling went where no other court has gone before.

“For the first time to the government’s knowledge, a federal court has restricted a military commander from implementing routine security procedures at a detention facility holding enemy forces, notwithstanding the universally recognized need for the maintenance of discipline and order in those facilities,” the government wrote in its motion with the appeals court.