Guantanamo detentions opposed by ex-officers

WASHINGTON – Navy Rear Admiral Don Guter felt the Pentagon shudder when an airliner hijacked by terrorists crashed into it on Sept. 11, 2001. He helped evacuate shaken personnel and later gave the eulogy for a colleague who died.

“I would have done anything that day, and I fully support the war on terrorism,” said Guter, who served as judge advocate general, the Navy’s chief legal officer, until he retired last year.

Nonetheless, he’s joining his predecessor and a retired Marine general with expertise on prisoner issues to challenge the Bush administration’s indefinite detention of suspected terrorists at the Navy base in Guantanamo, Cuba.

Guter, Rear Adm. John Hutson and Brig. Gen. David Brahms worry that lengthy incarcerations without hearings will undermine the rule of law.

The retired officers filed a Supreme Court amicus brief on behalf of 16 detainees held for almost two years. The government contends all are enemy combatants, most captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and have no legal rights or prisoner of war status. The Supreme Court will hear the case in a clash between presidential authority and judicial oversight.

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