We have been here before. In a momentous oral argument this morning, the Supreme Court will try to identify, for the third time in six years, the rights America owes detainees held as “combatants” (“enemy” or otherwise) during this war on terrorism. The past two times the White House and Pentagon have been hauled before the court, it has not gone well: Both times the court halted executive branch practices and policies. Both times administration critics rejoiced at the idea of the judicial branch standing up to its sister branches. But for the detainees, nothing has changed. Six years on, the detainees — many of whom have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism — are still languishing in Cuba. The White House and Congress are still cutting legal corners.The Justice Department is caught in between. And the court takes forever to act. Its Groundhog Day.
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