Those – and there are too many – who think the issue of detention without trial is just a matter of numbers should look across the Atlantic, where the Supreme Court has decisively rejected the US administration's claims that Guantanamo prisoners were enemy combatants, subject to military courts and outside US civil jurisdiction and has upheld their right to the "the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus".
It doesn't mean that the prisoners will be released immediately or that current military trials will be stopped. The administration will do everything in its power to delay the effects. But the ruling is clear and dramatic in its implications. "Liberty and security can be reconciled," declared Justice Anthony Kennedy, "and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law." It is a thought that Gordon Brown might ponder as he discusses the "war on terror" with President Bush this weekend.