GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The Obama administration has asked for and received a delay of Washington hearings for Guantanamo detainees to figure out "how it will proceed."
The hearings involve three cases that challenge the president's authority to order detentions in wartime.
The legal move is seen as the first step in the new administration's revision and possible shutdown of the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although the request and the subsequent order by a federal judge in Washington affects only three detainees, the action is likely to affect about 200 cases now pending, the legal site SCOTUSBLOG.com reported.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said Wednesday he has introduced legislation that would require the administration to give Congress 90 days notice and a feasibility study before it closes Guantanamo or transfers detainees to the civilian courts.
In its filing Tuesday after the inauguration, the U.S. Justice Department says, "The government is now assessing how it will proceed in the ... (three) Guantanamo Bay detainee habeas corpus (constitutional review) cases. Time is needed to make that assessment and determination."
Late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington granted the unopposed request, saying in his order "there is good cause to grant the relief" of a delay and canceling hearings in the cases of Karim Bostan, Abu Rawda and Abdul Aziz Naji.
Walton told the Justice Department to tell him by Feb. 4 when it wants to set a new hearing.
In the case of a fourth detainee, military commissions spokesman Joe DellaVedova told CNN "the defense did not oppose the prosecution's request for a continuance, so presiding Judge Pat Parrish has granted the motion for a 120-day continuance" in the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who was 15 years old when he was charged with the 2002 slaying of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and of providing material support for terrorism.
Military prosecutors have also asked the court to order continuances in the cases of five men charged with masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.