The U.S. Supreme Court wisely decided to review the case of Ali Saleh Khalah al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident who was apprehended by the federal government and held for more than five years in a Navy brig, where he stands accused of being an al-Qaida operative.
This case was bound to make it to the nation's highest court given the stakes involved. As Bloomberg news succinctly explains, the case also will provide an early test for the new Obama administration. It can side with President George W. Bush's assertion that a president can indefinitely detain legal residents based on suspicions of terrorist activity, or it can call for al-Marri to be tried in civilian court.
Even if al-Marri is an operative sent to the United States to disrupt the financial system the president's approach should be deeply troubling to Americans concerned about unchecked government power. The question is: Does the president have the power to imprison legal American residents indefinitely without filing any charges against them?