"the hunting of the snark"

Last week, federal appeals court reviewing evidence at Guantanamo Bay compared a Bush administration legal argument to one made by "a hapless dimwitted character," from "The Hunting of the Snark," a 1876 nonsense poem by Lewis Carrol. Huh? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit cited the poem in ruling that the military improperly labeled a Chinese Muslium as an enemy combatant: Judges cite nonsense poem in Guantanamo case

It was the first time a court has reviewed the military's decision-making and considered whether a detainee should be held. And damn, they busted out the super-obscure literary reference to do it. The ruling provides guidance to federal district judges, who are about to begin reviewing dozens of such cases now that the Supreme Court says detainees can challenge their detention in federal court.

This particular case pertains to Huzaifa Parhat, one of a group of Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs, being held at Guantanamo Bay. Their case has become a diplomatic and legal headache for the United States, which has tried to find a country willing to accept the Uighurs even as it defended its decision to hold them as enemy combatants. The Justice Department concedes that Parhat never fought against the U.S. and says it has no evidence he was planning to do so. So what gives? It's the hunt for the Snark.

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