Judge Leon’s Ruling in the Algerian Detainees Case

Here is the ruling, via Glenn and SCOTUSblog.

There’s not much detail, since the evidence on which Judge Leon based his decision is classified; but what he says in his ruling is that the government’s evidence for contending that, in 2001, these six men were planning to travel to Afghanistan for the purpose of taking up arms against the United States came from a single unnamed source, and that the Justice Department lawyers could not or would not provide him with the information he needed to determine whether that single source was reliable — nor could or would they provide Judge Leon with a second confirming source of evidence that the Algerian detainees had such a plan.

At Liberty Street, I have a roundup of some of the reaction to Thursday’s decision, but I failed to include this, from Glenn Greenwald’s longer post on the ruling [emphasis in original]:

Here is a gut-wrenching account of what these detainees have endured (h/t Ondelette).  The Bosnian Prosecutor who investigated their initial detention back in 2001 (which was effectuated at the behest of the U.S.) concluded they ought to be released, but the Bosnian Government succumbed to the pressure of the Bush administration and turned them over to the U.S. as they were being released (“hooded, shackled, and packed into waiting cars while their horrified families watched”), after which they were shipped to Guantanamo.

One of the detainees ordered released today had a wife who was pregnant at the time he was shipped to Guantanamo, who then gave birth to a daughter, now 6, whom he has never met.  Another of the Bosnian-Algerians had an infant daughter at the time he was put in Guantanamo who died last year of congenital heart disease at the age of 6.  Another of them “suffered months of facial paralysis from a brutal beating inflicted by Guantanamo camp soldiers.”  And then there’s this, about one of the other detainees, Saber Lahmer:

When we last saw Saber in November, he was in his sixth month of solitary confinement. Since August, he has seen us, his legal team, twice and a psychiatrist on three brief occasions. For a few minutes each day, he sees the camp guards who bring his meals. He has had no other human contact. The glaring lights in his cell are on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When we left the cell, we could hear Saber shouting — brief, truncated cries. We could not understand what he was saying.

According to Human Rights Watch, that detainee — “a university-educated father of two who once taught at the Islamic Cultural Center in Bosnia” — “continues to be housed 22 hours a day in a single cell, with nothing to occupy his time other than his Koran” and “now reports that he is going blind in his left eye, a result that he attributes to being housed in cells with fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day.”

And, as Glenn further notes:

We haven’t just imprisoned people with no evidence in cages for years.  We’ve kept them encaged under often brutal and extreme conditions, many in unbroken solitary confinement for years.  Today, a federal court ruled that for 5 of these men, there is no credible evidence that they did anything wrong, and if most of our political class — which supported the Military Commissions Act– had its way, they wouldn’t have even had this hearing at all.

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