Nowhere land

Nowhere land. IN 1903 THE UNITED STATES, after liberating Cuba from Spain, negotiated one of the most unusual landlord-tenant arrangements in modern history. As a condition of Cuba's independence, the fledgling state agreed to lease the United States 45 square miles of prime Caribbean land and sea for $2,000 a year (just over $4,000 today). Although the lease says Cuba retains “ultimate sovereignty” over the land, its term is indefinite; the United States cannot be evicted (though Fidel Castro refuses to cash the annual US check).

As a result, the US gained indefinite access to a fine natural harbor not far from the coast of Florida. But it may also have gained something even more valuable: complete control over a plot of land where, due to legal quirks, it can operate without regard to the normal constraints of the law. At least that's what the Justice Department maintains. This week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo since January 2002 have the right to challenge their detention in an American court.  [Boston Globe — Ideas Section]

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