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Judge Sets Schedule on Detainee Lawsuits

October 27, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal judge Friday set the stage for the next push by the Bush administration to get all the lawsuits by detainees at Guantanamo Bay thrown out of U.S. courts.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson laid out a five-week schedule for the Justice Department and lawyers for Salim Ahmed Hamdan to file written arguments in the detainee’s challenge to his confinement.

Hundreds of other detainees also are challenging their detentions in lawsuits.

It was a challenge by lawyers for Hamdan, Osama bin-Laden’s former driver, that led to the Supreme Court ruling in June striking down the Bush administration’s plan for military commission trials.

The new Military Commissions Act, which President Bush signed on Oct. 17, strips U.S. courts of jurisdiction to hear the detainees’ challenges to their indefinite detentions. Hamdan’s lawyers say the new provision is ``of doubtful constitutionality.″

Ten days ago, the Justice Department filed a copy of the new law with the court in Hamdan’s case. Robertson said in a one-page order the Justice Department filing ``is deemed to be a motion to dismiss″ Hamdan’s case.

Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said the provision to strip detainees of access to U.S. courts would ``take our civilized society back some 900 years to King John at Runnymede which led to the adoption of the Magna Carta.″

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