Court-Ordered Freedom for Guantánamo Prisoners Stops at D.C. Court of Appeals

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Getting out of Guantánamo and going free is no longer a possibility for many detainees even after they have won legal battles in lower federal courts.
Those victories have repeatedly been overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, whose judges have consistently sided with the Department of Justice.
In the past year, the DC Court of Appeals has ruled on the cases of eight Guantánamo prisoners and in each case it has denied their right to challenge their imprisonment (habeas corpus).
The Justice Department has found itself winning cases that heavily favored detainees, and benefited from unusual rulings, such as one that said lower courts should consider the possibility that “two unreliable pieces of information may corroborate each other.”
In the recently decided case of Hussain Salem Mohammad Almerfedi, a Yemeni captured by Iran and turned over to the U.S. (via Afghanistan) in a prisoner exchange, the lower court dismissed the evidence against him as no more credible than “jailhouse gossip,” but that was good enough for the DC Court of Appeals, which rejected Almerfedi’s right to challenge his imprisonment.
In June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush, gave habeas corpus rights to Guantánamo prisoners. However, in January 2010, the DC Court of Appeals, in the case of another Yemeni, Ghaleb Nassar al-Bihani, ruled that international laws of war did not apply to those at Guantánamo, allowing the Obama administration to continue to hold al-Bihari as a supporter of al-Qaeda, even if he was only a cook.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Guantanamo Detainees See Legal Progress Reversed (by Peter Finn and Del Quentin Wilber, Washington Post)
Judges Keep Guantánamo Open Forever (by Andy Worthington,
Guantánamo Habeas Results: The Definitive List (by Andy Worthington,


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