Category Archives: Guantanamo

Text of Judge Leon’s Remarks in Guantanamo Habeas Case

Thanks to SCOTUSblog, we have Documents on Boumediene detainee ruling including a full transcript of the remarks by Judge Leon, that I mentioned previously (Judge Grants Writ of Habeas Corpus for 5 out of 6 Gantanamo Detainees)

Here's the key excerpt from the transcript, significantly reformatted for easier reading:

Now, I want to raise a note of caution to those who may be listening or to those who will read my ruling. This is a unique case. Few, if any others, will be factually like it. Few, if any others, will be factually like it. Nobody should be lulled into a false sense that all of the Government's cases will look like and be like this one. If there is any lesson that the parties and the Court have learned, these cases are unique and the habeas process must be flexible.

The practical effect of the Supreme Court's decision to superimpose the habeas process into the world of intelligence gathering is to create a virtually limitless complex of novel and difficult questions. As a result, the precedential value, if any, should be and is — should be and is limited to these cases.

One last point I would like to make.

The Court appreciates fully that the Government has a right to appeal its decision as to these five detainees whose petitions I have granted. I have a right, too, to appeal to the senior-most leadership at the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and the CIA and other intelligence agencies. My appeal to them is to strongly urge them to take a hard look at the evidence, both presented and lacking, as to these five detainees. Seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer to a question so important, in my judgment, is more than plenty.

The appellate process for these five detainees would, at a minimum, constitute another 18 months to two years of their lives. It seems to me that there comes a time when the desire to resolve novel, legal questions and decisions which are not binding on my colleagues pales in comparison to effecting a just result based on the state of the record.

Detainees' counsel will undoubtedly file an appeal with regard to my decision denying Mr. Bensayah's petition. That appeal will provide more than enough opportunity for both sides to challenge the novel, legal rulings that this Court has had to make.

I appeal to the senior leadership of those agencies to bring to an end this process as to these five detainees. We will stand in recess.

Strong stuff.

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Judge Grants Writ of Habeas Corpus for 5 out of 6 Gantanamo Detainees

Judge Orders Five Detainees Freed From Guantánamo

In the first hearing on the government's justification for holding detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, a federal judge ruled Thursday that five Algerian men were held unlawfully for nearly seven years and ordered their release.

Judge Leon, in a ruling from the bench, said that the information gathered on the men had been sufficient to hold them for intelligence purposes, but was not strong enough in court.

“To rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation,” he said. He directed that the five men be released “forthwith” and urged the government not to appeal.

Judge Leon, who was appointed by President Bush, had been expected to be sympathetic to the government. In 2005, he ruled that the men had no habeas corpus rights.

I gather from people who were there that the Judge was fairly impassioned in his request to the government lawyers to let this case drop. That's really unusual, and suggests that they really had no case.

Judge Leon has issued an opinion (warning: 3.1 MB scanned .pdf), which skirts the actual evidence for security reasons, but is still good reading.

This is a historic moment — the rule of law grinds slowly, but maybe it's got some life in it yet.

Posted in Guantanamo | 4 Comments

Gitmo In America

Just plopped into my mailbox:

New Military Documents Reveal Unlawful Guantánamo Procedures Were Also Applied On American Soil

According to newly released military documents, the Navy applied lawless Guantánamo protocols in detention facilities on American soil. The documents, which include regular emails between brig officers and others in the chain of command, uncover new details of the detention and interrogation of two U.S. citizens and a legal resident – Yaser Hamdi, Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri – at naval brigs in Virginia and South Carolina.

The documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School and the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to the documents, Navy officers doubted the wisdom of applying Guantánamo rules on American soil. In particular, officers expressed grave concern over the effects of the solitary confinement imposed upon the three men detained at the brigs, a practice that was considered to be even more extreme than the isolation imposed at Guantánamo. Navy officers also exhibited frustration with the Defense Department's unwillingness to provide the detainees with access to legal counsel or any information about their fates. The documents clearly show that the standard operating procedure developed for Guantánamo Bay governed every aspect of detentions at the two bases inside the United States. Though Navy personnel tried several times to improve the harsh conditions under which Hamdi, Padilla and al-Marri were detained, senior Defense Department officials repeatedly denied the requests.

The press release

The newly released documents

The Guantánamo Standard Operating Procedure

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More on Gitmo Prosecutor Resigns (UPDATED)

A few days ago I posted ACLU: Gitmo Prosecutor Resigns In Protest. We have more details and further developments now, once again via the ACLU, at Honor Bound.

Not a pretty sight. If there's any honor here, it's with the JAGs.

Update: Read the full, sworn, statement by LTC Darrel J. Vandeveld.

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ACLU: Gitmo Prosecutor Resigns In Protest

via ACLU Blog: Because Freedom Can't Blog Itself: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union [link fixed]:

We learned late today that Army Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld, the lead prosecutor in the military commissions case against Mohammed Jawad, has resigned in protest because the prosecution team was not providing the defense evidence that could indicate Jawad's innocence. Jawad was a teenager when he was captured in Afghanistan and he's one of the two youngest prisoners at Guantánamo.

I've said it before and will say it again: the JAGs are the heroes of the “war against terror”.

Posted in Guantanamo | 2 Comments

IntLawGrrls Compare Party Platforms on Torture, Gitmo

IntLawGrrls: A Tale of 2 Platforms is a comparison of the two parties' platforms on the issues of torture and the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

I know that when a candidate is weak in his own party like McCain, or faces a powerful minority like Obama did with Clinton, platforms often are at least as much a reflection of the party activists than of the candidates' own views, but even so it's pretty telling.

Posted in Guantanamo, Torture | Comments Off on IntLawGrrls Compare Party Platforms on Torture, Gitmo