New Habeas Opinion

By Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 12:58 PM

Judge Richard Leon has issued an opinion denying a writ of habeas corpus to an Afghan national named Obaydullah in the latest Guantanamo habeas case. The brief opinion follows Judge Leon's usual practice of issuing a separate unclassified opinion that summarizes his classified work--rather than issuing a classified opinion which the government then redacts. (Memo to the other district court judges: This is an excellent practice, one that gives the public at large a much more holistic understanding of the court's findings that it can glean from bouncing between sometimes lengthy redactions.)

The case was, to put it mildly, not a tough one. The detainee, Judge Leon found, was captured with nearly two dozen mines on his property, a notebook with bomb-making instructions, and a car with dried blood on its seats from ferrying bomb-cell members injured in a bomb-making accident. Writes Leon, "the mosaic that emerges unmistakably supports the conclusion that it is more likely than not that petitioner Obaydullah was in fact a member of an al Qaeda bomb cell committed to the destruction of U.S. and Allied forces. As such he is lawfully detainable under the AUMF. . . ."