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Bensayah v. Obama

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 28 Jun 2010, United States Court of Appeal, District of Columbia, Unites States of America, United States

Belkacem Bensayah, an Algerian national, was arrested in Bosnia and Herzegovine in 2001 on the suspicion of plotting an attack against the United States Embassy in Sarajevo. Together with five other Algerians, Bensayah was turned over to the United States Government and transferred to the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay (Cuba). Bensayah was one of the plaintiffs in the Boumediene case, in the context of which, the Supreme Court of the United States found, in 2008, that Guantanamo detainees have a right to petition writs of habeas corpus (a legal action allowing the detainees to challenge the legality of their detention).

In November 2008, the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the release of five of the six plaintiffs. Bensayah, the sixth plaintiff, was denied release.

On 28 June 2010, the District Court of Appeals overturned the decision of the District Court, finding that the evidence against Bensayah must be reviewed since the Government changed its position and the evidence upon which the District Court relied in concluding that Bensayah supported the Al-Qaeda is now insufficient to show that he was also part of the organization.


Al-Aulaqi v. Obama et al.

Memorandum Opinion, 7 Dec 2010, District Court for the District of Columbia, United States

The al-Aulaqi case is significant, as it marks in all probability the first time ever that an American citizen has been killed by US forces outside the borders of the USA, without any trial, indictment or due process. Therefore, the case was dismissed not only on legal, but also on political grounds.

The case at hand was further complicated by al-Aulaqi’s dual citizenship, American and Yemeni, which impose dual sets of rights and duties, which more than often conflict with each other. The issue of governnments’ transparency in the face of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) violations was also raised during the proceeding.


American Civil Liberties Union v. Department of Justice

Memorandum Opinion, 9 Sep 2011, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, United States

Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, are remote-controlled, unmanned planes that can be operated from anywhere in the world by pilots located thousands of miles away from the drone. Specific individuals can be targeted and fired upon from thousands of miles away.

Amidst reports that the United States Armed Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are using drone strikes to target suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the non-profit organisation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a request with the US Departments of State, Defense and Justice, as well as the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act seeking access to records about the US drone program as well as its legal basis under domestic and international law. Faced with a refusal from the CIA to even confirm or deny the existence of such records, the ACLU filed a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The Court held, however, that the CIA’s refusal to confirm or deny the existence of such records falls within the exemptions to disclosure outlined by the Freedom of Information Act because such records pertain to national security and are protected from disclosure by the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 and the National Security Act of 1947.

The decision is presently on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.


Barhoumi v. Obama et al.

Order, 3 Sep 2009, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, United States

Sufyian Barhoumi is an Algerian nation who was allegedly providing assistance to al-Qaeda through buying certain electronic components needed for the building of remote-controlled explosive devices and through providing training to build such bombs. In July 2005, Barhoumi filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus (a legal action allowing a detained person to challenge the legality of his/her detention).

The District Court’s opinion remained confidential but in the subsequent judgment of the Court of Appeals, its findings and reasoning has been summarized. The District Court denied Barhoumi’s petition on the grounds that he was properly detained under the Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001.


Barhoumi v. Obama et al.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 11 Jun 2010, United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, United States

Sufyian Barhoumi is an Algerian nation who was allegedly providing assistance to al-Qaeda through buying certain electronic components needed for the building of remote-controlled explosive devices and through providing training to build such bombs. In July 2005, Barhoumi filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus (a legal action allowing a detained person to challenge the legality of his/her detention).

The District Court’s opinion remained confidential but in the subsequent judgment of the Court of Appeals, its findings and reasoning has been summarized. The District Court denied Barhoumi’s petition on the grounds that he was properly detained under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2001. Barhoumi challenged the District Court’s decision, arguing that the evidence upon which the decision was based do not prove that he was “part of” an al-Qaeda-associated organization.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with Barhoumi, finding that the adduced evidence was sufficient to warrant his detention under the 2001 AUMF. Accordingly, the District Court’s decision was affirmed.


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