Hamdi v. Rumsfeld

316 F.3d 450 (4th 2003)


The United States challenges the district court's order requiring the production of various materials regarding D's status as an alleged enemy combatant. The district court certified for appeal the question of whether a declaration by a Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy setting forth what the government contends were the circumstances of D's capture was sufficient by itself to justify his detention. In the wake of 9-11, Congress authorized the President 'to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks' or 'harbored such organizations or persons.' The President responded by ordering United States armed forces to Afghanistan to subdue al Qaida and the governing Taliban regime supporting it. During this ongoing military operation, thousands of alleged enemy combatants, including D, have been captured by American and allied forces. D was born in Louisiana but left for Saudi Arabia when he was a small child. D was initially detained in Afghanistan and then Guantanamo Bay, and transferred to the Norfolk Naval Station Brig after it was discovered that he may not have renounced his American citizenship. D's father, Esam Fouad Hamdi, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, naming as petitioners both D and himself as next friend. The petition alleged that D is a citizen of the United States who was residing in Afghanistan when he was seized. D was captured or transferred into the custody of the United States in the Fall of 2001' in Afghanistan. The petition alleges that 'as an American citizen, . . . D enjoys the full protections of the Constitution,' and that the government's current detention of him in this country without charges, access to a judicial tribunal, or the right to counsel, 'violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.' The district court appointed Public Defender Frank Dunham as counsel for the detainee and ordered the government to allow the Defender unmonitored access to D. We reversed the district court's order granting counsel immediate access to D. D's petition involved complex and serious national security issues and found that the district court had not shown proper deference to the government's legitimate security and intelligence interests. We sanctioned a limited and deferential inquiry into D's status, noting 'that if D is indeed an `enemy combatant' who was captured during hostilities in Afghanistan, the government's present detention of him is a lawful one.' On remand, the district court held a hearing. It is undisputed that Hamdi was captured in Afghanistan during a time of armed hostilities there. It is further undisputed that the executive branch has classified him as an enemy combatant. In a subsequent hearing, the district court recognized that 'the government is entitled to considerable deference in detention decisions during hostilities.' The court also noted that it did not 'have any doubts D had a firearm [or] any doubts he went to Afghanistan to be with the Taliban.' Despite these observations, the court challenged everything in the Mobbs' declaration.' The court ordered the government to turn over, among other things, copies of D's statements and the notes taken from any interviews with him; the names and addresses of all interrogators who have questioned Hamdi; statements by members of the Northern Alliance regarding the circumstances of Hamdi's surrender; and a list of the date of D's capture and all of the dates and locations of his subsequent detention. The district court certified the following question: 'Whether the Mobbs Declaration, standing alone, is sufficient as a matter of law to allow a meaningful judicial review of Yaser Esam Hamdi's classification as an enemy combatant?'