Discredited Yoo Memos Led to "Enemy Combatant" Detainment and Denial of Habeas Corpus
For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2008
Mike Webb, 212-998-6746
Today, the Brennan Center
for Justice asked a federal court to end the detention of a U.S. resident
who is being held on the advice of long-discredited
Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos which sought to justify torture and
In a letter to the Fourth
Circuit Court, Jonathan Hafetz, the Litigation Director for the Brennan Center's Liberty & National Security
Project, notes that the OLC eventually withdrew the memo because of its faulty
legal assertions that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments do not apply to citizens
and residents in some cases. Hafetz writes, "the President
designated Ali Saleh Kahlah Almarri an "enemy combatant" based upon a misguided
interpretation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, and to uphold that detention
is to endorse an analysis that even the Justice Department has repudiated."
The request comes
following the public disclosure of a March 2003 OLC memo written by John Yoo
that incorrectly sanction detention and deny the long-held right to habeas
corpus to some suspects.
"Yoo's OLC memo is a
tour de force of legal reasoning gone wrong, and unfortunately, for the
past five years, Mr. Almarri has had to bear the brunt of Yoo's tortured
logic," said Hafetz. "There is no legitimate basis for Mr.
Almarri to be detained by the U.S.
It is beyond the pale that the United
States would hold person in this country for
so many years without charging him with a crime and subject him to the abusive
treatment Mr. Almarri has been forced to endure. The government should charge
Mr. Almarri or release him immediately."
Last month, in a separate
suit addressing Mr. Almarri's mistreatment at the Navy brig, the Brennan Center
asked a District Court to investigate why some of the
Defense Department's recordings of Mr. Almarri's interrogations had been
destroyed and to remedy Mr. Almarri's
conditions at the brig, where he has been held in virtual isolation for the
last five years. Almarri's
habeas appeal is pending before the full Fourth Circuit.