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11 Mar, 2009 08:26

‘Under Bush, US left its constitution behind’

After being locked up for almost six years without being charged, the last person held by the US as an “enemy combatant” is to at last appear in court.

Following a review ordered by President Barack Obama, 43-year-old Ali al-Marri was only last month charged with conspiring with Al Qaeda and providing material support for terrorism.

His case is unlike any the world has ever seen.

A native of Qatar, he was studying in the United States when he was arrested in 2001 and accused of serving as an Al-Qaeda sleeper agent, facilitating terrorist activities leading up to September 11th, and exploring computer hacking methods to disrupt bank records.

The initial charges against Al-Marri were actually dropped in 2003. However, he was never released. Instead he was re-classified as an ‘enemy combatant’.

The term in itself is extremely vague, but under the Bush administration ‘enemy combatant’ basically meant that the person in question could be held in prison indefinitely, which is what happened to Al-Marri, until now.

He is finally set to appear before judges on March 18th for a trial that many people say took way too long to have in the first place.

How could a man be locked up for almost six years without being charged in the US and why is it only now that he is appearing in court? “The only explanation for that is just how far off track the country got under President George W. Bush,” said Christopher Anders from the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Ali al-Marri.

“What happened is that we, as a country, left the rule of law and left our constitution behind,” Anders believes.