Several members of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on Wednesday appeared ready to back President George W. Bush’s use of executive power to indefinitely imprison U.S. residents deemed enemy combatants.

The court, sitting en banc, heard arguments in the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, an Illinois man accused of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent. Al-Marri, a U.S. resident originally from Qatar, was arrested just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He has been detained in a Navy brig in South Carolina for more than four years without being formally charged.

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