The key appellate court that’s incited a Senate-confirmation clash confronted on Monday touchy questions about searches of detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
Even as a bitterly divided Senate prepared to add new judges to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a panel showed the court’s long reach by considering a challenge to Guantanamo search procedures. Initiated in May amid a detainee hunger strike, the new procedures include flat-hand frisking of groins and buttocks when detainees travel within Guantanamo to meet with attorneys.
“It’s a search of male genitals,” Judge Thomas Griffith noted. “That’s pretty provocative and offensive, isn’t it? How do you justify such a provocative search?”
Defense attorneys contend that the aggressive searches deter detainees from talking to counsel. In July, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth agreed and ordered the searches halted. The Obama administration appealed, leading to the 45-minute oral argument Monday before a three-judge panel.