The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday granted the US government's motion for a temporary delay in enforcement of a court order banning genital searches at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. The searches at issue are being conducted any time a detainee is transported to the area for meeting with counsel regarding habeas corpus matters. The US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] last week ordered [order, memorandum opinion] Guantanamo guards to limit their searches to "grasping the waistband of the detainee's trousers and shaking the pants to dislodge any contraband." The US, however, filed an emergency motion [AP report] with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday asking it to delay enforcement of the order due to security issues. The court granted the motion [AP report] later that day in a short order that did not elaborate on the court's reasoning. The government had argued in its motion that a ruling restricting security procedures at a military prison facility was unprecedented, but defendants' attorneys, as well as the district court, have argued that detainees have a right to meet with counsel without being forced to submit to searches that may be abhorrent to their religious beliefs.
Last month a federal judge called on members of Congress and President Barack Obama [official website] to give serious consideration to formulating a different approach [JURIST report] for the handling of Guantanamo detainee cases. Just days prior, Obama had appointed [JURIST report] Clifford Sloan to be the new envoy in charge of closing Guantanamo. The appointment followed a speech [JURIST report] Obama made in May that outlined US counterterrorism policy and efforts. In his speech, he detailed the steps needed to get prisoners out of Guantanamo, but cautioned that he cannot close the facility on his own. In contrast, the House Armed Services Committee [official website] approved [JURIST report] the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [HR 1960, PDF] in early June, which allocates more than 200 million dollars to keep the detention center open.