A federal judge has passed up a Guantánamo detainee's demand for an order that he be released when the U.S. war in Afghanistan ends, but the jurist suggested that U.S. officials have an "apparent" legal duty to let such prisoners go when hostilities there conclude.
In a ruling issued Sunday, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly turned aside Kuwaiti detainee Fawzi al-Odah's plea, calling it an "abstract disagreement" at this point since thousands of U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. However, her language indicated she was amenable to arguments that the U.S. government's authority to hold detainees concludes when the fighting in Afghanistan is over, or at least the U.S. role in such fighting is over.
"Petitioner’s anticipated injury is, at present, based entirely upon speculation that federal government officials will refuse to carry out their apparent legal responsibilities," Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a 21-page decision (posted here).
Kollar-Kotelly said she didn't need to and should not resolve the legal question in part because indications are that the Obama administration plans to shut down the Guantánamo facility and has invoked the wind-down of the Afghan war as part of the urgency for doing so.