Al Kandari Opinion Declassified

By Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 6:28 PM

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's opinion in Al Kandari v. U.S., some background on which I offered background here, is now declassified and available. It is lengthy and I have not read it yet but will offer thoughts as soon as I do. The opinion's introduction reads:

Petitioner Fayiz Mohammed Ahmed Al Kandari ("AI Kandari") has been detained by the United States Government at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba since 2002. According to his own statements and admissions against interest, Al Kandari was in the mountains near Tora Bora, during the height of the Battle of Tora Bora, armed with a Kalishnikov rifle, and in the company of several members and high-level leaders of al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated enemy forces, who were actively engaged in fighting the United States and its Coalition allies. Based on these admissions and other evidence in the record, the Government asserts that it has the authority to detain Al Kandari pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, Pub. L. No. 107-40. § 2(a), 115 Stat. 224,224 (2001) ("AUMF"), which authorizes the use of force against certain terrorist nations, organizations, and persons. Al Kandari believes he is unlawfully detained and has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. This civil proceeding requires the Court to determine whether or not Al Kandari's detention is lawful. In connection with this inquiry, the Court has considered the factual evidence in the record, the extensive legal briefing submitted by the parties, and the arguments presented during a five-day Merits Hearing held on October 19-23,2009. The parties did not present any live testimony at the Merits Hearing, but Al Kandari did listen telephonically to the unclassified opening statements by his counsel and Government's counsel. Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that the Government has met its burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that Al Kandari became part of al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated enemy forces. Accordingly, the Court shall DENY Al Kandari's petition for habeas corpus.