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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Rules on 'Enemy Combatants'

RICHMOND, Virginia -- A federal appeals court has harshly rebuked the U.S. presidential administration's anti-terrorism strategy, ruling that U.S. residents cannot be locked up indefinitely as "enemy combatants" without being charged.

The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government should charge Ali al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident and the only suspected enemy combatant on American soil, or release him from military custody.

The federal Military Commissions Act does not strip al-Marri of his constitutional right to challenge his accusers in court, the judges found in Monday's 2-1 decision.

"Put simply, the Constitution does not allow the president to order the military to seize civilians residing within the United States and then detain them indefinitely without criminal process, and this is so, even if he calls them 'enemy combatants,'" the court said.

Such detention "would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution -- and the country," Judge Diana Motz wrote in the opinion.