Expect White House to face 'a lot of pressure' on Guantanamo amid Afghanistan withdrawal, defense attorney says

As the United States continues to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, "it's going to be harder for the government or deferential courts" to justify the continued detention of prisoners Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo defense attorney Ben Farley told NPR.

Following 9/11, NPR notes, Congress passed the "authorization for use of military force," which gave the executive branch the power to pursue anyone suspected of playing a role in the terrorist attacks, and the government has maintained the law includes the ability to detain prisoners without charge or trial during wartime. But how does the looming end of the the U.S.'s conflict in Afghanistan affect the Guantanamo's last 40 detainees?

"One of the fraught questions for the past 20 years has been whether or not the war on terrorism extends beyond the borders of Afghanistan and nearby Pakistan," said Guantanamo defense attorney Michel Paradis. "Is the war a war against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan? Or is it a war against terrorism broadly? Is it a war against al Qaeda and anything that shares al Qaeda's ideology, any organization that splits off from al Qaeda?"

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There likely won't be a neat answer to those questions, but Farley said he expects to see "a lot of pressure put on the [Biden] administration, and on the government more generally in litigation, arguing that the armed conflict has ended and detention authority has evaporated." Read more at NPR.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.