Some judges have put cases on hold until the task force decides; others are pressing ahead.
In January, Judge Richard Leon sided with the Pentagon's decision to detain Saudi-born Ghalib al Bihani, 29, as an enemy combatant. Taken to Guantánamo a week after Camp X-Ray opened, he had denied that he ever took part in al Qaeda basic weapons training, but admitted to working as a cook for the Taliban.
``As Napoleon himself was fond of pointing out: `An army marches on its stomach,' '' Leon wrote.
Seven months later, Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the release of Mohammed al Adahi, a 47-year-old Yemeni who admitted he went to a wedding party for his sister put on by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and also attended al Qaeda boot camp, but washed out.
Although ``sensational and compelling,'' she wrote in her 24-page ruling, it ``does not constitute actual, reliable evidence that would justify the government's detention.''
Adahi remains in Cuba while diplomats seek a repatriation agreement with Yemen.
Lawyers liken these to ``show-cause hearings,'' a criminal proceeding under the most unusual circumstances -- using seven-year-old files, some classified, gathered not for prosecution but intelligence efforts.
Two weeks ago, Judge Paul Friedman struggled aloud with the question of whether detainee Saifulla Paracha, 62, might post bail.
``That's one of the great frustrations that judges have,'' Friedman said. ``They reach a decision, then do they have the power to release them into the United States or into Cuba?''
Government lawyers are still combing through Guantánamo documents to decide which his lawyers may see, and an actual merits hearing won't be held until next year.
Meantime, Maryland defense attorney Gaillard Hunt said, Paracha could be fitted with a tracking device on his ankle and move to a family home in Brooklyn, or await his hearing in Karachi, Pakistan.
In 2003, masked men seized Paracha as he was leaving the airport in Bangkok, Thailand, according to his petition for release. His captors then spirited him to Afghanistan, a technique now known as rendition, for a year of U.S. interrogation and detention before he was sent to Cuba in September 2004.
He has never been charged with a crime, nor has he ever claimed his American captors tortured him. He has a heart condition but refused a U.S. military plan to treat him with angioplasty.
Rather than rule immediately on bail, Friedman gave the government two months to start providing Paracha's lawyers with the paperwork -- and asked for a formal response on the bail question by Halloween.