ACLU Will Represent an American Citizen in U.S. Military Detention Abroad

Almost four months after an American citizen was secretly detained by the U.S. military in Iraq, and three months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion demanding access to him, ACLU lawyers were finally able to meet with the man to ask whether he wants to challenge his detention with ACLU representation.

The citizen, who the government admits requested an attorney months ago, is grateful to finally have the assistance he had long requested, and confirmed that he wants to fight his detention with the ACLU’s help. Today, we filed an update informing the judge overseeing the case of his wishes. Because he has concerns about his name becoming public, he asked that we not disclose any identifying information about him.

The meeting, which took place by video at the Pentagon on Wednesday, came after a federal judge, in a late-night ruling on Dec. 23, ordered the government to provide the ACLU with immediate, unmonitored access to the detainee, who hadn’t been aware of the ongoing case until shortly before he met the ACLU lawyers. The government has been holding him since September as an “enemy combatant,” claiming, without presenting any evidence, that he fought for ISIS. After news reports revealed that the U.S. government was imprisoning an American citizen, the ACLU filed a habeas corpus petition with the federal district court in Washington, D.C., demanding the government justify his detention. We also filed an emergency motion demanding that the government provide us with contact with him.

The government fought back in court, seeking to dismiss our petition. It argued that the ACLU had no standing to challenge the citizen’s detention because we had never met the man and did not know his wishes. In a ruling against the government, Judge Tanya S. Chutkin, saw through its Catch-22 argument: “The court finds the Defense Department’s position to be disingenuous at best, given that the Department is the sole impediment to the ACLUF’s ability to meet and confer with the detainee.”

She continued:

"Having informed the detainee of his right to counsel, and the detainee having asked for counsel, the department’s position that his request should simply be ignored until it decides what to do with the detainee and when to allow him access to counsel is both remarkable and troubling.”

Judge Chutkan’s decision ordered the government to allow the ACLU to meet the citizen for to determine whether he wants to challenge his detention, and if so, whether he wishes to be represented by the ACLU. The order, which came on the heels of a report that the government was considering transferring the man to Saudi Arabia, also prohibited the government from carrying out any transfer before the ACLU’s update. In today’s filing, we also asked the judge to extend the prohibition on transferring the man while the challenge to his detention is pending.

The detention of this American citizen is unlawful. As we explained in a letter sent to the Justice Department and the Pentagon in September, the government does not have domestic legal authority to hold alleged ISIS fighters as enemy combatants in military detention. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force extends to people who supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces at the time of the 9/11 attacks, when ISIS did not exist.

In any event, the government has presented no evidence that the citizen fought for ISIS. Even if a court were to interpret the 2001 AUMF — or the 2002 AUMF authorizing the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — as extending to ISIS, this man has a constitutional right to know the government’s reasons for detaining him and to challenge its evidence. Instead, the government is going to great lengths to deny him his due process rights. We have asked the court to order the government to swiftly supply its basis for detention, which the citizen will have the opportunity to rebut.

If the government actually has any evidence of criminality against our client, it should charge him in a federal court, where constitutional safeguards apply. In this case, our judicial system has thus far worked: The court has repudiated the executive branch’s frightening notion that it has the power to hold a citizen unlawfully, in secret, and without access to a lawyer.

Let’s hope it continues to check such notions. The government has acted at every turn to deny a citizen his basic rights and day in court. His struggle to vindicate those rights is just getting underway.

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Anonymous

Why would obviously intelligent people such as yourselves would waste your energies fighting for terrorists and degenerates? When I was younger I was
all for the aclu. As I get older and I actually take the time to read into many of the cases you take on I am often shocked.

INDEPENDENCE

It isn't no way I was, (beginning with any of ALL CREATION) will or ever be In part seeing in. NO OHER THAN EQUAL WITH HUMANITY. AS SUPERNATURAL HONEST GIVING HOSPITABLY ENTIRELY GRATEFULLY WITH ONLY THE EXISTENCE IN EVERY THOUGHT WE HAVE; ALONG TOGETHER WHOM ALL THEREFORE FOREVER MAY BE IN OURS LIVES AS LONG SHALL LIVE... WE THE PEOPLE KNOW. ONLY HAVE TWO WAYS ABOUT IT ALL, THAT MATTERS ! I WANT TO BE PART; SEEING CLEARLY MIRRIORED HERE IN AMERICA WITHIN THIS COUNTRY TOGETHER AS WELL SAME TIME AMERICA BEING HEARD AND SEEN IN BURSTING FROM ALL OVER AND THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE; WE ARE ONE TOGETHER FOR ALL. AND ALL WE BE FOR THE WELL BEING TO GRATEFULLY LOVINGLY WILLING AS SERVENTS WAITING IF TO HELP ALL WE THE PEOPLE'S ALL ACROSS ON THIS GLOBE, EARTH, THE PEOPLE'S...!!!! NOT INPART, SEEING DIMMLY IN A MIRRIORED LYING, THIEVING, MANIPULATING GOVERERN MAJORILY WAYS MOST PEOPLE LIVING DOING PEOPLE'S SO WRONGLY ENVYING WANTING TAKING ALL WHATS WANTED MONEY CHASING GRUBBER'S, MORE AND MORE FOR HURRY UP BEFORE MORE COME!!!! MAKE A LAW TO COVER A LAW ONE AFTHER ANOTHER FASTER AND FASTER CAUSE SO MANY MULTIPLYING THATS SORRY AS THE LOWIEST OF SCUM ON EARTH DOWN TO THE BOTTOM PITS OF HELL GETS THERE BEFORE ANOTHER AND THE OTHER SO MANY AND BEEN GOING ON SO LONG CLOSER TO THE BEGINNING, MONKEY SEE'S AND MONKEYS DO'S....!!! PITIFUL EXCUSE HOW SO MANY TO COULD LIVE GOING ON KNOWINGLY BOUND TO I'D THINK FOR MOST. Love you all, nobody's perfect. NOT EVEN I .001% IN ALL MY LIFE. BUT DAMN! P.S. SO DONT THINK YOUR LAWS ARE JUST YOURS ONLY AND DO ANY HOWEVER TO WHOEVER THINKING YOU ONLY FOREVER, CAUSE IM NOT UNDER YOU'S GUYS BS MAKE IT HOWEVER LIKE YOU HAVE TO COVERING UP JSY MORE BS OF LAWS THAT YA He made up to COVER up crooked unjustly more of laws therefore dating back real closer from life in the beginning was... I respect the sovire law that is law in the smallest with governed authority in simpler way carried out. See, when law is broken, it means someone crooked unjustly caused it. When together people unionize in love helping one another just to be doing so having fun enjoying lending one to another no law gets broke, nothing was took. WAS GIVED...! IMAGINE POPULATION CHAIN ALL ON THIS EARTH IN THAT LAST PARPHASE, WAS ALL GIVING? WOW!!!! Would be way much COOLER HA? Signing off Ty

Anonymous

This man is an enemy combatant. He has no rights in this case.

Montgomery J. G...

Sadly, this American traitor deserves neither your attention nor services. He is in fact an unlawful combatant in the Global War on Terror, and therefore, by International and US law, is not entitled to extra legal privileges. He is not entitled to habeas corpus and should never have been read any rights nor offered to speak with an attorney. He could have been lawfully shot dead on the battlefield. There is a reason for war time law, and that is to preserve and protect innocent people and non-military facilities. Unlawful combatants by their existence do not recognize war time law, and therefore have not EARNED the protections therein. Rights cannot exist without responsibilities, and it is the responsibility of the combatant to fight within the rules and laws established and recognized by the civilized world. Remember the six of eight German saboteurs who landed dry-foot on US soil in 1942, were denied habeas corpus, were tried by military commission, and then executed by electric chair less than eight weeks after their capture. None of them had hurt a fly nor damaged any property, but were found to be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare. They were deemed to be spies with the intent and means to kill and to destroy property. What's different now? The correct location for this unlawful combatant is the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he may be lawfully held, without charge or trial, just as if he were a lawful combatant POW, as per Geneva and the Law of War, "Until the end of hostilities." Sincerely, Montgomery J. Granger, Major, US Army, Retired. Author, "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior."

Lkagno

You say this man is “in fact”.... who the fuck are youto tell me what the “facts” are?! Forgot your US Constitution, not to mention logic and reason, have you?

Anonymous

Montgomery J. Granger, there are two spectrums of military service. First, to preserve and protect the Constitution. Second, your abilities and strengths are used by the very few to send you to war. The main purpose of your service should be to preserve and protect the Constitution.

The Constitution guarantees every citizens inalienable rights which includes Due Process, right to counsel, habeas relief, etc.

Who is to say that this American does not deserve such rights? Enemy Combatant is a new term created under the Bush administration to justify its illegal detainment of a person without the protection of the Constitution.

How do we even know that this person supported or even fought for ISIS? Who makes that determination? It's dangerous that a US government can hold an American citizen without the protection of the Constitution. It could be your son who was somewhere at the wrong place and wrong time.

Another important fact you missed before you commented is that the US government wanted to send this American to Saudi Arabia. How does a military have a right to send an American to a country with a dismal human rights record without authorization of the judicial system?

Since the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, almost every aspects of our Constitutional rights have been ignored. This is treasonous.

It is also scary that a president can drone strike an American outside the United States without Due Process. We are one step away from some President seeking justification to drone strike an American on U.S. soil.

People in the United States have been conditioned to not ask questions and go along what the few tells you through its lap dog media outlets. It's getting to a boiling point in this country and internationally where people are going to rise and destroy the wrong that is occurring.

Just because you served the military does not make you a hero. What makes you a hero is if you protected our Constitution in its plain meaning and not interpreted by DOJ.

Quit being a lap dog. You should be ashamed for the comment made. The executive and legislative branches cannot unilaterally determine a person to be held without Due Process. Learn Constitutional law before commenting.

Anonymous

Horrifying further indication that this Administration knows little about the Constitution or civil liberties. Ignorance, however, is not a defense.

Anonymous

I am fine with this guy being labeled an enemy combatant, but I'd like to see some evidence and not a "trust us" argument.

I hated when Obama killed American citizens overseas using drone strikes even if they were enemy combatants without a trial. It's absolutely a slippery slope especially when you get someone in power who seems to throw caution to the wind. Worried that anyone who disagrees with them can be next.

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