Terrorism Trials: Military Commissions

Mystery Habeas Order Involving High-Value Detainees

By Benjamin Wittes
Friday, November 2, 2012, 7:56 AM

Does anyone have any idea what this is about?

In March 2011, the government made classified filings in 10 cases involving high-value detainees. The filings have never become public, and I have been wondering for some time what they concern. All were transferred to Judge Emmet Sullivan, who issued some kind of ruling on in May of this year. That seemed to be the end of the matter, except that one of the detainees, Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, moved for reconsideration or a stay of Judge Sullivan's ruling---a motion Judge Sullivan has now denied in a highly-redacted order issued a few weeks ago. The order gives a few clues---but not many---as to what the filing could have been about: "The government notified the court [four lines redacted]. The government sought a finding from the court [three lines redacted]." The May order, Judge Sullivan informs us, granted the government's request but "impos[ed] additional conditions." Nashiri argued that the order would interfere with his due process rights before his military commission---an argument Judge Sullivan rejects on grounds that he has no jurisdiction to supervise the conduct of military commission proceedings and is dealing only with habeas cases. Judge Sullivan writes: "the sole issue transferred to the undersigned is the government's obligations under certain [redaction] orders in the habeas proceedings."