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September 30, 2009

Grant of habeas corpus to Fouad Mahmoud al Rahiah, held and tortured in Guantanamo for 7 years

The court decision clearly shows that the US government detained and tortured this man into demonstrably false confessions for most of the seven years he's been held in Guantanamo.  The wheels of American justice may grind slowly, but we must remember that they sometimes are grinding people down in the process.

The Obama administration's continued pursuit of this case leaves one's mind reeling between whether it was unconscionable given the facts or whether it was brilliant strategy to ensure more clear legal rulings on these matters instead of just leaving this history of the Bush administration's torture and detention policies in legal limbo by simply releasing him.

Extract from the 65 page opinion, Civil. Action No. 02-828 (CKK) :

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

FOUAD MAHMOUD AL RABIAH, et al., Petitioners,

v.

UNITED STATES, et al., Respondents.

Civil. Action No. 02-828 (CKK)

CLASSIFIED MEMORANDUM OPINION (September 17, 2009)

UNCLASSIFIEDIIFOR PUBLIC RELEASE

Petitioner Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah ("AI Rabiah") has been detained by the United States Government at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba since 2002. The evidentiary record on which the Government seeks to justify his indefinite detention is surprisingly bare. The Government has withdrawn its reliance on most of the evidence and allegations that were once asserted against Al Rabiah, and now relies almost exclusively on Al Rabiah's "confessions" to certain conduct. Not only did Al Rabiah's interrogators repeatedly conclude that these same confessions were not believable - which Al Rabiah's counsel attributes to abuse and coercion, some of which is supported by the record - but it is also undisputed that AI Rabiah confessed to information that his interrogators obtained from either alleged eyewitnesses who are not credible and as to whom the Government has now largely withdrawn any reliance, or from sources that never even existed. Far from providing the Court with credible and reliable evidence as the basis for Al Rabiah's continued detention, the Government asks the Court to simply accept the same confessions that the Government's own interrogators did not credit, and to ignore the assessment [REDACTED]

Based on this record (or more accurately, in spite of it), the Government asserts that it has the authority to detain Al Rabiah pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, Pub. L. No.1 07-40, ยง 2(a), 115 Stat. 224, 224 (2001) ("AUMF"), which authorizes the use of force against certain terrorist nations, organizations, and persons. Al Rabiah believes he is unlawfully detained and has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In connection with its inquiry into whether Al Rabiah is lawfully detained, the Court has considered the factual evidence in the record, the extensive legal briefings submitted by the parties, and the arguments presented during a four-day Merits Hearing held on August 26-28, 2009, and August 31, 2009, during which the parties proffered evidence based on the written record and did not present any live testimony.  Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that Al Rabiah's uncorroborated confessions are not credible or reliable, and that the Government has failed to provide the Court with sufficiently credible and reliable evidence to meet its burden of persuasion. If there exists a basis for Al Rabiah's indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this Court. Al Rabiah's petition for habeas corpus is GRANTED.

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