Court: US Detainees at Bagram Don’t Have Constitutional Rights

Judge Claims 'No Indication' the US Will Occupy Base Permanently

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit today ruled that detainees being held by the United States at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan don’t have the right to challenge their detention, even though that right is guaranteed to prisoners in the US Constitution.

The panel found that Bagram is subject to “the vagaries of war” and one judge claimed that because “there is no indication of any intent to occupy the base with permanence,” it isn’t under the court’s jurisdiction.

A previous case had determined that the US could detain Afghan citizens essentially forever at Bagram without providing any explanation for why or charging him with any crimes, but today’s ruling expands that lack of legal recourse to all detainees, regardless of nationality.

The Obama Administration had previously argued that giving any detainees there any legal rights at all would be a threat to national security, and a threat to the nearly nine year long war in Afghanistan. The argument is essentially the same as that of the Bush Administration.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of