Today Judge Leon released his brief unclassified opinion in Razak Ali v. Obama, a Guantanamo habeas merits case. In the order Judge Leon denies the petition of Abdul Razak Ali, an Algerian who also goes by the name Saeed Bakhouche. As the court summarized:
The Government contends that the petitioner was a member of Abu Zubaydah's force that was reorganizing at a guesthouse in Faisalabad, Pakistan, and preparing for future operations against U.S. and Allied forces. In particular, the Government contends that the petitioner: (1) lived with Abu Zubaydah and a cadre of his lieutenants during a two week period; (2) previously traveled with Abu Zubaydah's force through Afghanistan and ultimately fled with them through Afghanistan to Pakistan; and (3) took an English course (with an American accent) when he was staying at Abu Zubaydah's guesthouse.
Petitioner, not surprisingly, disagrees. Although he acknowledges being captured in the same guesthouse as Abu Zubaydah, he denies: (1) ever being in Afghanistan, let alone being with Abu Zubaydah's force there; (2) ever taking an English course from Abu Zubaydah's trainers at the guesthouse; and (3) ever being a member, permanent or otherwise, of Abu Zubaydah's force. In essence, he claims that the Government has mistakenly identified him as a member of Abu Zubaydah's force, who traveled with Abu Zubaydah in Afghanistan and fled with him to Pakistan before gathering at this particular guesthouse to start preparing for their next offensive against u.s. and Allied forces. Upon reviewing the Return, the Traverse, and the oral argument during the merits hearing, I disagree with the petitioner's contention and conclude for the following reasons that the Government has more than adequately established that it is more likely than not that petitioner Bakhouche was, in fact, a member of Abu Zubaydah's force and is therefore detainable under the AUMF.
After stating that the D.C. Circuit had "unequivocally recognized that Abu Zubaydah and his band of followers have well established ties Al Qaeda" (emphasis in original), the court concludes as follows:
[T]he Court has no difficulty concluding that the Government more than adequately established that it is more probable than not that the petitioner was in fact a member of Abu Zubaydah's force that had gathered in that Faisalabad guesthouse to prepare for future attacks against U.S. and Allied forces. Accordingly, petitioner Bakhouche is being lawfully detained under the AUMF and this Court must, and will therefore, DENY his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
Judge Leon wrote that he plans to release a classified version of his opinion "in the upcoming weeks."
UPDATE: Additional facts above and new numbers below.
- Uighur cases in which detention was deemed or conceded unlawful: 17
- Petitioners’ district-court wins pending at D.C. Circuit: 5
- Petitioners’ district-court wins not appealed by the government: 12
- Petitioners’ appellate-court wins resulting in a remand to district court, with remand still pending: 1
- Petitioners’ merits wins at D.C. Circuit: 0
- Petitioner’s district-court wins in which the D.C. Circuit dismissed the appeal: 2
- Government’s district-court wins pending at D.C. Circuit: 12
- Government’s district-court wins that will likely be appealed: 2
- Government’s appellate-court wins resulting in a remand to district court, with remand still pending: 1
- Government’s merits wins at D.C. Circuit: 5
- Government’s district-court wins in which the D.C. Circuit dismissed the appeal as moot: 1
- Post-Boumediene merits decisions in which cert. has been granted or denied: 0