Two Developments in Al Warafi's End of War Challenge

By Wells Bennett
Monday, July 6, 2015, 3:00 PM

I caught development one on social media last week: It seems Judge Royce Lamberth has set a hearing on Mukhtar Al Warafi's bid to end his detention at Guantanamo. The former Taliban medic, as readers well know, claims that assertions by the President, to the effect that the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan ended last year, also spelled the end to any armed conflict betwen the United States and the Taliban—something that, in turn, requires Al Warafi's release. Court and counsel will debate the question on July 14.

Relatedly, on Thursday Al Warafi's lawyers replied to a notice of supplemental authority filed by the United States. Earlier on, the President Obama had spoken in sweeping terms about the end of the war, and Al Warafi naturally highlighted that in his initial filing. But the United States thereafter pointed to some more qualified, recent claims by the President, which reiterated the combat mission's end while reminding audiences that, nevertheless, the United States remains locked in armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces. The gist of Al Warafi's Thursday submission is to blast such claims as weak post hoc inventions, designed to salvage the government's bad legal position; and to observe that, in any event, President Obama's earlier, unqualified war-is-over-full-stop remarks still stand.