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.
A federal judge on Thursday struck down as unconstitutional the District’s regulations for hanging political signs on the city’s lampposts.
U.S. District Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s opinion finds that the rules governing how long signs can be posted in the District violate the First Amendment, and it prevents the city from enforcing the regulations.
In his 58-page decision, Lamberth “lauds the District for opening its lampposts to political messages” but writes that “once the District opens up public property to political speech, it has a responsibility to be fair, even and precise in its regulations.”
At issue is a long-standing battle between the District and a grass-roots organization that was fined tens of thousands of dollars by the city for failing to promptly remove its posters from lampposts and electrical boxes after an anti-war march it advertised in 2007.
Two groups — the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation — argued that the city’s rules unfairly distinguished between different types of speech and initially favored signs promoting the election of individual candidates for public office.
In response to the lawsuit, the District has rewritten its regulations at least four times. City attorneys in the case said the regulations were designed to promote aesthetics and reduce litter, according to court documents.
But Lamberth wrote that the revised regulations still failed to apply a consistent, constitutional standard, in part because of the discretion the language gives to individual city inspectors.
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, 24, was jailed for 12 years for urging fellow Muslims to attack and kills British MPs who had voted for the war in Iraq. As the Guardian reports, Ahmad, an IT graduate, posted threats and material inciting religious hatred on the US-based website RevolutionMuslim.com, including a full list of MPs who had supported military action in Iraq. Ahmad called on Muslims to imitate Roshonara Choudhry, who was jailed last year for stabbing and attempting to murder Labour MP Stephen Timms. In addition, he posted links to a Tesco website listing cheap knives. Judge Royce, sentencing Ahmad to 12 years in jail, noted that Ahmad “became a viper in our midst willing to go as far as possible to strike at the heart of our system”. This position, according to Joyce, was “alien to what we stand for in our country”.
The Guardian also reports that Ahmad was radicalized as a teenager and became an active contributor not only to RevolutionMuslim, but also to Islam4UK and IslamicAwakening websites.