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Rendition (35)
legalProceedings
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People who have been detained

John Walker Lindh (32)
Maher Arar (11)
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Hashiem (1)
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Nahla al-Azzawi (4)
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Mu'taz al-Azzawi (4)
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A.Z. (1)
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Ahmadullah (1)
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Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed Al Deemawi (1)
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Asif Iqbal (21)
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Faysal Galab (3)
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Yaseinn Taher (3)
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Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri (1)
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Unnamed prisoners (42)
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Torture, rendition, and other abuses against captives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere

 
  

Project: Prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

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January 25, 2002

       The first court hearing concerning John Walker Lindh, takes place in Alexandria, Virginia. Lindh is allowed to meet with his lawyers for the first time. [CNN, 1/26/2002; Associated Press, 1/25/2002] The location is, as one commentator later remarks, “a few miles from the Pentagon, where prosecutors could be assured of a pro-prosecution judge and jurors drawn from communities dominated by families of military and intelligence officials—some of whom suffered direct injuries on September 11th—and where controversial rulings would be reviewed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most right-wing federal appellate court in the United States.” [World Socialist Web Site, 7/18/2002] In addition, it is close to the home of the Spann family, related to CIA officer Johnny Spann, responsibility for whose death, according to some, is attributed to Lindh. [San Francisco Chronicle, 12/22/2001]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

February 15, 2002

       Egyptian national Wael Kishk, who uses a wheelchair, complains to a judge in open court about mistreatment at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC). Following his court appearance, during his transport back to the center, guards throw him face down onto the floor of the bus. Kishk is unable to break his fall because his hands are tied behind his back and his ankles are shackled. Back at the MDC, four guards “started stomping on me,” he later reports from Cairo. “They took all my clothes off and turned me on my stomach. Then, the leader put his foot on the back of my neck and told me, ‘All of this is so you will stop playing games.’ ” This latter remark, Kishk takes to be a reference to his complaints. Kishk and another Egyptian, Ashraf Ibrahim, will say they were also subjected to strip searches and that guards painfully grabbed their genitals. [New York Daily News, 2/20/2005]
People and organizations involved: Wael Kishk, Ashraf Ibrahim
          

May 10, 2002

       The US Federal Public Defender (FPD) for the Eastern District of Virginia, Frank Dunham, files a petition for a writ of habeas corpus for Yaser Esam Hamdi, as Hamdi's “next friend,” in the Eastern District of Virginia to challenge his detention. [CNN, 5/31/2002] A habeas corpus is a petition to the court to require that a prisoner's jailer appear with the prisoner in court, so that the court may determine the legality of the prisoner's detention. A person who files as a “next friend” is required to have a significant relationship with the prisoner in order to file a habeas petition on the prisoner's behalf. [US District Court of Eastern Virginia, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi, Frank W. Dunham Jr.
          

May 29, 2002

       Judge Robert G. Doumar of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, rules in favor of Yaser Esam Hamdi's Federal Public Defender (FPD) and orders the government to grant the FPD access to Hamdi “because of fundamental justice provided under the Constitution.” Doumar orders that the meeting take place, unmonitored, on June 1. The government files a motion for stay pending appeal two days later, which is granted on June 4 by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. [Washington Post, 1/9/2003, pp A01 Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 7/12/2002]
People and organizations involved: Robert G. Doumar, Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

June 11, 2002

       Jose Padilla's attorney, Donna R. Newman, files a habeas corpus petition in the District Court for the Southern District of New York. Newman informs the court that she has been told by the government that she is not permitted to visit Padilla or to speak with him. She may write, but he might not receive the correspondence, she says. [Sources: Padilla v. Bush et al., United States District Court, Southern District of New York, opinion and order, 12/4/2002]
People and organizations involved: Donna R. Newman, Jose Padilla
          

June 11, 2002

       District Court Judge Robert Doumar determines that a separate habeas petition, filed by Hamdi's father, Esam Fouad Hamdi [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, Petition for Habeous Corpeous, 6/11/2002] , has been properly filed as “next friend.” Judge Doumar appoints the Federal Public Defender (FPD) as counsel for Hamdi's father, and orders the government to allow the public defender unmonitored access to Hamdi “for the same reasons articulated in the May 29, 2002 Order (see May 29, 2002).” The two petitions by the FPD and Hamdi Sr. are then consolidated into one. The meeting, to take place by June 14, will be “private between Hamdi, the attorney, and the interpreter, without military personnel present, and without any listening or recording devices of any kind being employed in any way.” Two days later, the government files a second motion for stay pending appeal, which is granted on June 14 by the Fourth Court of Appeals. [US District Court of Eastern Virginia, n.d.; Washington Post, 1/9/2003, pp A01 Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 6/11/2002]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi, Robert G. Doumar
          

June 26, 2002

       The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reverses the May 29 decision (see May 29, 2002) of Judge Robert G. Doumar of the US District Court in Norfolk ruling that US Federal Public Defender (FPD) Frank W. Dunham is not related to Hamdi and has never met him, and thus cannot file a petition on his behalf. This does not affect the habeas case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, Hamdi's father, or the June 11 order (see June 11, 2002) by a district court judge to allow the Federal Public Defender (FPD) access to the detainee. [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 6/24/2002]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

June 26, 2002

       Jose Padilla's public prosecutors file a document with the District Court for the Southern District in Lower Manhattan, which says Padilla had been declared an “enemy combatant” on grounds that “Citizens who associate themselves with the enemy and with its aid, guidance, and direction, enter this country bent on hostile acts, are enemy belligerents.” [CNN, 27 June 2002]
People and organizations involved: Jose Padilla
          

July 12, 2002

       The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decides in favor of the government, refusing to uphold a district court's order (see May 29, 2002) that Yaser Esam Hamdi be allowed access to his lawyer. The appeals court argues that the district court ordered access “without adequately considering [its] implications.” It states that it “has long been established that if Hamdi is indeed an ‘enemy combatant’ who was captured during hostilities in Afghanistan, the government's present detention of him is a lawful one.” In deference to the government, the court states that the “executive is best prepared to exercise the military judgment attending the capture of alleged combatants,” adding that the “political branches are best positioned to comprehend this global war in its full context and it is the president who has been charged to use force against those ‘nations, organizations, or persons he determines’ were responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks.” The court asserts that the “Constitution's commitment of the conduct of war to the political branches of American government requires the court's respect at every step.” [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 7/12/2002]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

July 15, 2002

       John Walker Lindh's trial comes to a sudden and unexpected end when prosecutors and defense attorneys strike a plea agreement. Lindh agrees to plead guilty to serving the Taliban. He also admits that while serving under the Taliban he carried a gun and grenades. This adds ten years imprisonment for the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. [CBS News, 7/15/2002; Guardian, 7/15/2002; Associated Press, 7/15/2002 Sources: US v. John Walker Lindh, 7/15/2002] The nine other counts, including the charges of conspiracy to murder Americans and providing material support to terrorists, are dismissed. In return, his defense withdraws the claim that Lindh has been abused or tortured at American hands. According to the agreement, Lindh “puts to rest his claims of mistreatment by the United States military, and all claims of mistreatment are withdrawn.” [Amnesty International, 10/20/2003] Brosnahan tells Hersh, that “the Department of Defense insists that we state that there was ‘no deliberate’ mistreatment of John.” [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004] And thus, in a formal statement, Lindh says, “that he was not intentionally mistreated by the US military.” [Mercury News, 5/20/2004] Lindh's attorney, Harris, later tells the World Socialist Web Site, “I think that one thing that motivated the government to resolve the case was certainly their reluctance to have the evidence presented about how John Lindh was treated while he was in US military custody.” Another motive for the prosecutors to agree to a plea bargain, Harris suggests, is the expected disclosure during a public trial of the government's own ties to the Taliban. [World Socialist Web Site, 10/7/2002] Harris explains that there was good reason to assume that if the trial would go in favor of Lindh, the government would declare him an “enemy combatant” and detain him indefinitely, perhaps in solitary incommunicado confinement, without charges, access to lawyers or relatives, like it had done only recently, on June 9 (see June 9, 2002), to another US citizen Jose Padilla. “It was the government's position,” Harris says, “that even if John Lindh had been acquitted, or had been convicted and served his time, that it still would have been within the government's power to declare him an enemy combatant and continue to detain him.” [World Socialist Web Site, 10/7/2002] Lindh was therefore in a no-win-situation. Even after release following his twenty-year sentence, he will not be certain of his freedom. The plea agreement says that “for the rest of the defendant's natural life, should the Government determine that the defendant has engaged in [proscribed] conduct [...] the United States may immediately invoke any right it has at that time to capture and detain the defendant as an unlawful enemy combatant.” [Sources: US v. John Walker Lindh, 7/15/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

July 18, 2002

       The district court for the Eastern District of Virginia holds a hearing in the case of Yaser Hamdi and questions the government's arguments for keeping Hamdi detained. Questions raised by the district judge are: “With whom is the war I should suggest that we're fighting?” and “Will the war never be over as long as there is any member [or] any person who might feel that they want to attack the United States of America or the citizens of the United States of America?” The court orders the government to include answers to these and other questions in a response to Hamdi's habeas petition by July 25 (see July 25, 2002). [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 1/8/2003]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

July 25, 2002

       The government files a response in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to the petition for a writ of habeas corpus for Yaser Hamdi (see July 18, 2002) and motions for the petition to be dismissed. The response, a two-page declaration of facts written by Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michael H. Mobbs and known as the “Mobbs Declaration,” asserts that because Hamdi was “affiliated” with the Taliban and was carrying a rifle at the time of his surrender, the US military has designated him as an enemy combatant. It does not say that Hamdi actually fought with the Taliban against US forces. [Washington Post, 1/9/2003, pp A01 Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 1/8/2003]
People and organizations involved: Michael H. Mobbs, Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

July 31, 2002

       Judge Robert G. Doumar of the US District Court of Eastern Virginia orders the US government to provide the court with copies of all of Hamdi's statements, a list of all interrogators who have questioned him, and copies of any statements by members of the Northern Alliance that relate to Hamdi by August 6. A hearing will then be held on August 8. Access to the documents will be restricted to the court and will not be shared with Federal Public Defender (FPD) Frank Dunham. [Washington Post, 1/9/2003, pp A01 Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 7/31/2002] The US government refuses to comply with the order. [Washington Post, 1/9/2003, pp A01 Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 8/5/2002]
People and organizations involved: Frank W. Dunham Jr., Robert G. Doumar, Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

August 8, 2002

       Rebuffing Judge Robert G. Doumar's July 31 ruling (see July 31, 2002), the Fourth Circuit Court of Richmond orders the US District Court of Eastern Virginia to “consider the sufficiency of the Mobbs declaration as an independent matter before proceeding further.” [Washington Post, 1/9/2003, pp A01 Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 8/8/2002]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi, Robert G. Doumar, Frank W. Dunham Jr.
          

August 13, 2002

       Judge Robert G. Doumar of the US District Court in Norfolk, which is handling the habeas petition for Yaser Hamdi, holds a hearing in compliance with an order (see August 8, 2002) by the court of appeals to consider the government's argument for treating Hamdi as an enemy combatant as outlined in the Mobbs declaration (see July 25, 2002). [Washington Post, 1/9/2003, pp A01 Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 8/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi, Robert G. Doumar
          

August 16, 2002

       The district court at Norfolk finds that the Mobbs declaration (see July 25, 2002) “falls far short” of providing a basis for the continuing detention of Yaser Hamdi without due process of law. “If the Court were to accept the Mobbs Declaration as sufficient justification for detaining Hamdi ..., this Court would be acting as little more than a rubber stamp,” he writes in his ruling. He again orders the government to produce additional evidence, including copies of Hamdi's statements, notes by his interrogators, statements by members of the Northern Alliance and relevant names, dates, and locations. [Washington Post, 1/9/2003, pp A01 Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 8/16/2002] Doumar says the government's arguments lead “to more questions than answers.” For example:
The Mobbs Declaration does not say what authority Mobbs has, as “Special Advisor” to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, to determine the classification of a detainee. He says that during the August 13 hearing (see August 13, 2002), the government's attorney was unable to do so. [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 8/16/2002]

The government has provided no reason “for Hamdi to be in solitary confinement, incommunicado for over four months and being held some eight-to-ten months without any charges of any kind.” [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 8/16/2002]

Though it is claimed that Hamdi was “affiliated with a Taliban military unit and received weapons training,” the declaration makes no attempt to explain the nature of this “affiliation” or why the “affiliation” warrants the classification of Hamdi as an enemy combatant. Furthermore, the delcaration “never claims that Hamdi was fighting for the Taliban, nor that he was a member of the Taliban.” [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 8/16/2002]

Assertions in the document concerning statements made by Hamdi appear to be paraphrased. Hamdi's actual statements are not provided. “Due to the ease with which such statements may be taken out of context, the Court is understandably suspicious of the Repondent's assertions regarding statements that Hamdi is alleged to have made,” the court ruling says. [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 8/16/2002]

People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

August 21, 2002

       Judge Robert G. Doumar of the US District Court in Norfolk stays proceedings in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi and issues a request to the Fourth Circuit to respond to the question “whether the Mobbs Declaration, standing alone, is sufficient as a matter of law to allow a meaningful judicial review of Yaser Esam Hamdi's classification as an enemy combatant.” [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 8/21/2002]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi, Robert G. Doumar
          

October 4, 2002

       Judge Thomas S. Ellis III sentences John Walker Lindh, as expected, to 20 years in a federal penitentiary. With a 15 percent credit for good behavior and time served, he should be released in 16 years and two months. [CBS News, 10/4/2002; CBS News, 10/4/2002]
People and organizations involved: Thomas S. Ellis, John Walker Lindh
          

October 21, 2002

       A federal jury indicts the Lackawanna Six on two counts of providing material support to terrorism. They are charged with supporting terrorism because they trained at the al-Farooq camp in Afghanistan, run by al-Qaeda. If found guilty, they could face up to 15 years in prison. All of them plead not guilty. [CBS News, 10/22/2002]
          

January 8, 2003

       In the habeas case of Yaser Hamdi, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rules again in favor of the government. The court decides that the facts presented by the government in the “Mobbs declaration” (see July 25, 2002) were sufficient to consider Hamdi rightfully as an enemy combatant. “Hamdi is not entitled to challenge the facts presented in the Mobbs declaration. Where, as here, a habeas petitioner has been designated an enemy combatant and it is undisputed that he was captured in a zone of active combat operations abroad, further judicial inquiry is unwarranted ...,” the court holds. In response to Hamdi's representatives' argument that Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention requires Hamdi's status be determined by a competent tribunal, the court states that “the Geneva Convention is not self-executing,” and can therefore not be applied directly in a US court. [Sources: Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 1/8/2003]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

March 11, 2003

       The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirms the government's position that the jurisdiction of federal courts does not extend to Guantanamo Bay, and thus, that the Guantanamo detainees have no legal redress in federal courts. Guantanamo is in sovereign Cuban territory, the court argues, and therefore the 1950 Eisentrager case applies, according to which US courts have no jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus for aliens held by the US military outside US sovereign territory. [Sources: Khaled A. F. Al Odah, et al. v. United States of America, et al., 3/11/2003]
          

October 1, 2003

       Yaser Esam Hamdi files a request to the Supreme Court to review his habeas case. [Sources: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Oct. 1, 2003]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

December 2003

       The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rules that federal courts have jurisdiction over Guantanamo Bay, and that the prisoners can file writs of habeas corpus in US courts challenging the legality of their detention. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 12/29/2003] The San Francisco Court argues: “Under the government's theory, it is free to imprison [detainees] indefinitely ..., and to do with ... these detainees as it will, when it pleases, without any compliance with any rule of law of any kind .... Indeed, at oral argument, the government advised us that its position would be the same even if the claims were that it was engaging in acts of torture or that it was summarily executing the detainees .... It is the first time that the government has announced such an extraordinary set of principles—a position so extreme that it raises the gravest concerns under both American and international law.” [Human Rights Watch, 1/9/2004]
          

December 18, 2003

       A three-judge panel of the 2 US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York votes 2 to 1 that the military must release Jose Padilla within 30 days. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 12/29/2003] “The government,” the court says, “can transfer Padilla to appropriate civilian authorities who can bring criminal charges against him.” Until now, no court in the US has ruled against the government's contention that even American citizens arrested on US soil can be held indefinitely based on wartime government prerogatives. “So far,” Office of Legal Counsel lawyer John Yoo comments, “the 2nd Circuit is the only court that has rejected the idea that the war on terrorism is, in fact, a war.” [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 12/29/2003]
People and organizations involved: John C. Yoo, Jose Padilla
          

January 9, 2004

       The Supreme Court accepts the habeas case of Yaser Esam Hamdi. For two years, Hamdi has been in detention and has been barred from seeing an attorney, and all the while not having any information about charges against him or of an upcoming trial. “I didn't know what was going on. Really, I didn't know anything,” Hamdi later recalls. “I was just in a big question mark, and I didn't know any answers to any questions.” [CNN, 10/14/2004]
People and organizations involved: Supreme Court, Yaser Esam Hamdi
          

June 28, 2004

       In the case of Jose Padilla v. Donald Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court votes 5 to 4 in favor of the government, declining to rule on the basis of a technicality. The majority argues that his petition was incorrectly filed in New York rather than in South Carolina where he is currently held. While Padilla was held in New York in preparation for an appearance before a grand jury, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld designated him an enemy combatant. Padilla was thereupon transferred to military custody and sent to a naval brig in South Carolina to be detained indefinitely. His lawyer meanwhile, unaware of her client's transfer, filed a habeas corpus petition in New York against Rumsfeld. This was wrong say five justices who rule that Padilla has to re-file his petition in South Carolina. [Sources: Rasul et al. v. Bush et al., Supreme Court opinion on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 6/28/2004] Four dissenting judges condemn the “secret transfer” of Padilla. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the minority of justices, declares, “At stake in this case is nothing less than the essence of a free society.” Stevens also condemns the use of “incommunicado detention for months on end” as a means “to extract information” and places it among the “tools of tyrants.” [Sources: Rasul et al. v. Bush et al., Supreme Court opinion on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 6/28/2004]
People and organizations involved: Jose Padilla, Donald Rumsfeld, Jose Padilla, Donald Rumsfeld, John Paul Stevens
          

June 28, 2004

       In the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi v. Donald Rumsfeld, eight of nine Supreme Court justices decide, contrary to the government's position, that Yaser Hamdi, as a US citizen held inside the US, cannot be locked up indefinitely incommunicado, without an opportunity to challenge his detention. They rule he has the right to be given the opportunity to challenge the basis for his detention before an impartial court. Justice Sandra Day O'Conner writes for the majority that, “We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens.” She also writes: “It would turn our system of checks and balances on its head to suggest that a citizen could not make his way to court with a challenge to the factual basis for his detention by his government, simply because the Executive opposes making available such a challenge. Absent suspension of the writ by Congress, a citizen detained as an enemy combatant is entitled to this process.” Hamdi, on the other hand, apart from military interrogations and “screening processes,” has received no process. Due process, according to a majority of the court, “demands some system for a citizen detainee to refute his classification [as enemy combatant].” A “citizen-detainee ... must receive notice of the factual basis for his classification, and a fair opportunity to rebut the Government's factual assertions before a neutral decisionmaker.” However, O'Connor writes, “an interrogation by one's captor ... hardly constitutes a constitutionally adequate factfinding before a neutral decisionmaker.” Only Justice Clarence Thomas affirms the government's opinion, writing, “This detention falls squarely within the Federal Government's war powers, and we lack the expertise and capacity to second-guess that decision.” [Sources: Rasul et al. v. Bush et al., Supreme Court opinion on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 6/28/2004]
People and organizations involved: Yaser Esam Hamdi, Sandra Day O'Conner, Clarence Thomas, Donald Rumsfeld
          

June 28, 2004

       In the case Rasul v. Bush, involving petitioners Shafiq Rasul, Mamdouh Habib, David Hicks, and Asif Iqbal, all detained at Guantanamo, the Supreme Court holds, with 6 votes to 3, that the US exercises “complete jurisdiction and control” over Guantanamo Bay, and thus, that the Guantanamo prisoners have the right to challenge their detentions before a judge. Under the habeas corpus statute, Justice John Paul Stevens writes for the majority that “aliens held at the base, no less than American citizens, are entitled to invoke the federal courts' authority.” [Sources: Rasul et al. v. Bush et al., Supreme Court opinion on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 6/28/2004] It is unclear whether the court's ruling is intended to extend to detainees held in other parts of the world, but given the court's reasoning, it appear that decision applies to detainees both in Guantanamo and elsewhere. [New York Times (Editorial), 6/29/2004] The three dissenting justices are William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. Scalia says the decision is “an irresponsible overturning of settled law in a matter of extreme importance to our forces currently in the field.” He acknowledges that the location of Guantanamo has in fact been intended to keep detainees outside of the reach of the judiciary. “Today, the court springs a trap on the executive, subjecting Guantanamo Bay to the oversight of federal courts even though it has never before been thought to be within their jurisdiction, and thus making it a foolish place to have housed alien wartime detainees,” Scalia writes. [The Guardian, 6/28/2004] Justice John Paul Stevens writes that it does not matter what status the Guantanamo inmates have regarding the question of whether they should have access to a US court. “What is presently at stake is only whether the federal courts have jurisdiction to determine the legality of the executive's potentially indefinite detention of individuals who claim to be wholly innocent of wrongdoing.” And this, he writes, they do. The case is subsequently sent back to a lower court to consider the prisoners' claims. [The Guardian, 6/28/2004]
People and organizations involved: Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, David Hicks, Asif Iqbal, William Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Shafiq Rasul, William Rehnquist, Mamdouh Habib
          

July 2, 2004

       Four days after the Supreme Court decision (see June 28, 2004), lawyers representing nine Guantanamo prisoners file five lawsuits in the US District Court in Washington D.C., arguing that their detentions are unlawful and unconstitutional, and seeking their release. [Reuters, 7/2/2004]
People and organizations involved: Supreme Court
          

July 6, 2004

       The American Civil Liberties Union and four other human rights groups move for preliminary injunction seeking expedited release of records. [Sources: ACLU et al. v. Department of Defense et al. Amended Complaint for Injunctive Relief, United States District Court, Southern District of New York, 7/6/2004]
People and organizations involved: American Civil Liberties Union
          

August 12, 2004

       After an oral argument in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein orders the Pentagon and other government agencies to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and provide the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups documents about detention and interrogation activities regarding prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. The government must comply by August 23, the court orders. [Reuters, 8/12/2004]
People and organizations involved: Alvin K. Hellerstein, American Civil Liberties Union
          

October 4, 2004

       The Supreme Court rules that Ali Sale Kayla al-Marri's habeas petition was filed in the wrong court. It should have been filed in Illinois instead of South Carolina. The court declines to further consider the case.
People and organizations involved: Ali Sale Kayla al-Marri, Supreme Court
          

October 20, 2004

       US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rules on a lawsuit filed by three Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo: Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari, Khalid Abdullah Mishal al-Mutairi, and Fawzi Khalid Abdullah Fahad al-Odah. She rules that detainees should be permitted to communicate with their lawyers without the government listening in on their conversations. She says the government's attempt to wire-tap detainee-attorney communications threatens to “erode [the] bedrock principle” of attorney-client privilege. She says the government is defending its position with “a flimsy assemblage” of arguments. “The government has supplied only the most slender legal support for its argument, which cannot withstand the weight of the authority surrounding the importance of the attorney-client privilege.” [Reuters, 10/20/2004] The three Kuwaitis, Judge Kollar states, “have been detained virtually incommunicado for nearly three years without being charged with any crime. To say that their ability to investigate the circumstances surrounding their capture and detention is ‘seriously impaired’ is an understatement.” [Associated Press, 10/21/2004] She does concede, however, that lawyers for the Guantanamo detainees are required to disclose to the government any information from their client involving future threats to national security. [Reuters, 10/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, Fawzi Khalid Abdullah Fahad al-Odah, Khalid Abdullah Mishal al-Mutairi, James L. Pohl
          

November 8, 2004

       US District Judge James Robertson rules that the Combatant Status Review Tribunal being held at the Guantanamo base in Cuba to determine the status of detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan is unlawful and cannot continue. At the time of the decision, Hamdan is before the Guantanamo military commission. [USA Today, 11/9/2004; Washington Post, 11/9/2004] Robertson, in his 45-page opinion, says the government should have conducted special hearings to determine whether detainees qualified for prisoner-of-war protections under the Geneva Conventions at the time of capture. [USA Today, 11/9/2004] He says that the Bush administration violated the Geneva Conventions when it designated prisoners as enemy combatants, denied them POW protections, and sent them to Guantanamo. [Boston Globe, 11/9/2004] The Combatant Status Review Tribunals that are currently being held in response to a recent Supreme Court decision (see June 28, 2004) are inadequate, Robertson says, because their purpose is to determine whether detainees are enemy combatants, not POWs, as required by the Third Geneva Convention. [USA Today, 11/9/2004] Robertson also rejects the administration's claim that the courts must defer to the president in a time of war. “The president is not a ‘tribunal,’ ” the judge says. [USA Today, 11/9/2004] Clinton appointee Robertson thus squarely opposes both the president's military order of November 13, 2001 (see November 13, 2001) establishing the possibility of trial by military tribunal, and his executive order of February 7, 2002 (see February 7, 2002) declaring that the Geneva Conventions do not to apply to Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners. “The government has asserted a position starkly different from the positions and behavior of the United States in previous conflicts,” Robertson writes, “one that can only weaken the United States' own ability to demand application of the Geneva Conventions to Americans captured during armed conflicts abroad.” [USA Today, 11/9/2004; Washington Post, 11/9/2004; Boston Globe, 11/9/2004] Robertson orders that until the government conducts a hearing for Hamdan before a competent tribunal in accordance with the Third Geneva Conventions, he can only be tried in courts-martial, according to the same long-established military rules that apply to trials for US soldiers. [Boston Globe, 11/9/2004; Washington Post, 11/9/2004] Robertson's ruling is the first by a federal judge to assert that the commissions are illegal. [Washington Post, 11/9/2004] Anthony D. Romero, director of the American Civil Liberties Union; Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice; and Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, all applaud Robertson's ruling. [Boston Globe, 11/9/2004] The Bush administration refutes the court's ruling and announces its intention to submit a request to a higher court for an emergency stay and reversal of the decision. “We vigorously disagree. ... The judge has put terrorism on the same legal footing as legitimate methods of waging war,” Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo says. “The Constitution entrusts to the president the responsibility to safeguard the nation's security. The Department of Justice will continue to defend the president's ability and authority under the Constitution to fulfill that duty.” [Boston Globe, 11/9/2004; Washington Post, 11/9/2004] He also says that the commission rules were “carefully crafted to protect America from terrorists while affording those charged with violations of the laws of war with fair process.” [Boston Globe, 11/9/2004] Though the ruling technically only applies to Hamdan, Hamdan's civilian attorney, Neal Katyal, says it could affect other detainees. “The judge's order is designed only to deal with Mr. Hamdan's case,” Katyal says. “But the spirit of it ... extends more broadly to potentially everything that is going on here at Guantanamo.” [USA Today, 11/9/2004]
People and organizations involved: James Robertson, Supreme Court, Jamil al-Banna, Neal Katyal, Anthony D. Romero, Mark Corallo, George W. Bush, American Civil Liberties Union, Salim Ahmed Hamdan  Additional Info 
          

November 30, 2004

       During a hearing before US District Judge Joyce Hens Green, the government's attorney maintains that Guantanamo detainees “have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court.” This statement by Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle appears to be in flagrant contravention with the Supreme Court's June 28 ruling (see June 28, 2004). Judge Green lays out a number of hypothetical cases before Boyle. For example, she asks: “If a little old lady in Switzerland writes checks to what she thinks is a charitable organization for Afghanistan orphans, but it's really supporting ... al-Qaeda, is she an enemy combatant?” Possibly, Boyle answers, but it would depend on her intentions. “It would be up to the military to decide as to what to believe.” Boyle also holds that the military can detain a Muslim teacher simply because he has a student with a family with connections to the Taliban, or someone who failed to report suspicions that his cousin might be a member of al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 12/2/2004]
People and organizations involved: Joyce Hens Green, Brian Boyle  Additional Info 
          

November 30, 2004

       The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), based in New York, and the Republican Lawyers' Association in Berlin, file a criminal complaint in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Stephen A. Cambone, Ricardo S. Sanchez, and Janis Karpinski, alleging responsibility for war crimes at Abu Ghraib. The German 2002 Code of Crimes Against International Law grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. The center is representing five Iraqis who claim they were victims of mistreatment that included beatings, sleep and food deprivation, electric shocks, and sexual abuse. [Deutsche Welle, 11/30/2004] Though German law stipulates that prosecution can be dismissed in cases where neither the victim nor the perpetrator are German citizens or are outside Germany and cannot be expected to appear before court, [Deutsche Welle, 11/30/2004] that fact that Sanchez is based at a US base in Germany makes it possible that the case will be heard. [Deutsche Welle, 11/30/2004]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, Center for Constitutional Rights, Stephen A. Cambone, Ricardo S. Sanchez, Janis L. Karpinski
          

December 2, 2004

       During a court hearing involving 59 Guantanamo detainees challenging their detention, US District Judge Richard J. Leon, who is handling habeas petitions by Guantanamo prisoners simultaneously with US District Judge Joyce Hens Green, asks Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle, whether detention based only on evidence obtained by torture would be illegal. Boyle answers that such evidence could still be used if the Combatant Status Review Tribunal decides it is reliable. “Nothing in the due process clause [of the Constitution] prohibits them from relying on it.” In addition, Boyle says there will not be any restriction on the use of information derived from torture conducted by a foreign power. [Washington Post, 12/3/2005; Associated Press, 12/3/2004; Associated Press, 12/3/2004] Evidence derived from torture has not been admissible in US courts since the 1930s. [Associated Press, 12/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Brian Boyle, Joyce Hens Green, Richard J. Leon
          

January 20, 2005

       District Judge Richard J. Leon dismisses a lawsuit by seven Guantanamo detainees challenging their detention: a French citizen, an Algerian, and five dual Bosnian-Algerian detainees. He rules that foreign nationals captured and detained outside the US have no recognizable constitutional rights [BBC, 1/20/2005; Reuters, 1/20/2005] and that last year's Supreme Court ruling (see June 28, 2004) did not entitle Guantanamo detainees with the right to sue in US courts. Foreign citizens, captured and detained outside the US, according to Judge Leon, have no rights under the Constitution or international law enforceable in US courts. [Los Angeles Times, 1/31/2005] “To the extent that these non-resident detainees have rights,” Leon writes, “they are subject to both the military review process already in place and the laws Congress has passed defining the appropriate scope of military conduct towards the detainees.” He adds that the “extent to which these rights and conditions should be modified or extended is a matter for the political branches to determine,” not the judicial branch. “[T]he petitioners are asking this court to do something no federal court has done before: evaluate the legality of the executive's capture and detention of non-resident aliens, outside the United States, during a time of armed conflict.” [Reuters, 1/20/2005]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Supreme Court, Richard J. Leon
          

January 31, 2005

       US District Judge Joyce Hens Green rules that Guantanamo detainees may legally challenge their detention in US courts as a violation of their constitutional due process rights. She says that last year's Supreme Court decision (see June 28, 2004) made it clear that detainees are entitled to constitutional rights. Her ruling flatly contradicts the decision of another judge who ruled on a similar case two weeks before (see January 20, 2005). [Washington Post, 1/31/2005; Los Angeles Times, 1/31/2005] She also rules that the Combatant Status Review Tribunals being held in Guantanamo are unconstitutional and “violate long-standing principles of due process .... ” According to Green, the tribunals deny detainees a fair trial to which they are constitutionally entitled. She found that the tribunals relied heavily on reported confessions of detainees despite widespread allegations and some evidence that detainees had been abused during interrogations. In reviewing classified material on the tribunals' decisions, she notes that there were many cases in which the prosecution failed to provide any evidence that the detainee was ever engaged in combat or terrorism. The tribunals, Green writes, “violate long-standing principles of due process by permitting the detention of individuals based solely on their membership in anti-American organizations rather than on actual activities supporting the use of violence or harm against the United States.” [Washington Post, 1/31/2005] Green also rules that Taliban members are entitled to prisoners of war status because they were fighting in the name of the Afghan government when they were captured. [Washington Post, 1/31/2005]
People and organizations involved: Joyce Hens Green, Supreme Court
          

March 1, 2005

       Judge Henry Floyd of the US District Court in South Carolina rules that the government must charge Jose Padilla with a crime within 45 days or release him. Judge Floyd also criticizes the government's move to declare Padilla an enemy combatant. “His alleged terrorist plans were thwarted at the time of his arrest. There were no impediments whatsoever to the government bringing charges against him for any one or all of the array of heinous crimes that he has been effectively accused of committing,” Floyd writes. “Since [Padilla's] alleged terrorist plans were thwarted when he was arrested on the material witness warrant, the court finds that the president's subsequent decision to detain [him] as an enemy combatant was neither necessary nor appropriate.” More fundamentally, Floyd finds: “It is true that there may be times during which it is necessary to give the executive branch greater power than at other times. Such a granting of power, however, is in the province of the legislature and no one else—not the court and not the president.” The Justice Department announces it will appeal the decision. [CNN, 3/1/2005]
People and organizations involved: Henry Floyd, Jose Padilla
          

March 1, 2005

       The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights First file a lawsuit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the northern district of Illinois, his home state. They do so on behalf of eight men formerly detained in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay who claim to have been tortured. “Rumsfeld bears direct responsibility,” for the former prisoners' treatment, says ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. [CBS News, 3/1/2005] ACLU's Lucas Guttentag, lead counsel in the lawsuit, says, “Secretary Rumsfeld bears direct and ultimate responsibility for this descent into horror by personally authorizing unlawful interrogation techniques and by abdicating his legal duty to stop torture.” The parties seek a court order declaring that Rumsfeld violated the US Constitution, federal statutes, and international law, and compensatory damages for the inflicted harm that the eight men suffered due to torture, abuse, and degrading treatment. The civil rights groups are joined as co-counsel by a number of prominent legal experts, among them former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, retired Rear Admiral John D. Hutson; former Chief Judge of the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals, retired Brig. Gen. James Cullen; and former Assistant Attorney General Bill Lann Lee. [Human Rights First, 3/1/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bill Lann Lee, Anthony D. Romero, American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First, Donald Rumsfeld, John D. Hutson, Lucas Guttentag, James Cullen
          


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