The aim is to bypass the US courts. "The position of the executive branch," said Eric Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University who has consulted with lawyers for several detainees, "is that it can be judge, jury and executioner."

The administration said terrorism suspects were enemy combatants who may be held indefinitely without charge by the army. One, Yaser Esam Hamdi, a U.S. citizen of Saudi descent, was released after the Supreme Court said he could challenge the claim.

Citing terrorism, the administration has argued that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions. On the eve of the Supreme Court reviewing another case they plan to move another US citizen from the army to the federal courts.