The Justice Department properly withheld the names and other details about hundreds of foreigners detained in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The powerful decision was deferential to the Bush administration's arguments over continued threats to America from terrorists.
In a 2-1 ruling that represents a major victory for President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, a panel from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia determined that disclosing such information could provide a roadmap of the government's Sept. 11 investigation for international terrorists.
Federal judges asked to compel such disclosures should defer to White House concerns that it might help the nation's enemies, the appeals panel said.
"America faces an enemy just as real as its former Cold War foes, with capabilities beyond the capacity of the judiciary to explore," wrote U.S. Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle. He said judges are "in an extremely poor position to second-guess the executive's judgment in this area of national security."
The modern age just can't wait for that musty old writ of habeas corpus.
Those with long memories may recall that the same Judge Sentelle, a Republican appointee, took a somewhat different view of second-guessing the executive when a Democrat was in the White House, and he was supervising a special prosecutor...