The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has reaffirmed the need for lawyers representing detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay to have full access to government information on their clients. The full court declined to reconsider a decision that a three-member panel of the court issued last year ordering the government to release nearly all its information on the 275 detainees being held without charges.
Though the 5-5 appeals court was divided on whether or not to revisit the issue, since a majority did not vote to rehear the case, the ruling requiring the release of information will stand unless the government chooses to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 180 men challenging their detentions have been stalled for months while the government fought to keep secret the information it had gathered, arguing its release would cause "exceptionally grave damage to the national security." But, as noted in the decision written by Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, a detainee currently "has little ability to gather his own evidence, no right to confront the witnesses against him and no lawyer to help him prepare his case."
Perhaps this ruling will afford detainees a bit more of the level playing field our justice system prides itself on providing.