Hamdi v. Rumsfeld

542 U.S 507 (2004)


Yaser Esam Hamdi (P), born an American citizen in Louisiana in 1980, moved with his family to Saudi Arabia as a child. In 2001 he resided in Afghanistan. P was seized by members of the Northern Alliance, a coalition of military groups opposed to the Taliban government, and eventually was turned over to the United States military. P was interrogated and transferred to Guantanamo Bay in January 2002. Upon learning that P is an American citizen, authorities transferred him to a naval brig in Norfolk, Virginia. D contends that P is an 'enemy combatant,' and that this status justifies holding him in the United States indefinitely--without formal charges or proceedings--unless and until it makes the determination that access to counsel or further process is warranted. P's father filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. P argues that he enjoys the full protections of the Constitution.' and that his detention violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. P claims that he went to Afghanistan to do 'relief work,' and that he had been in that country less than two months before September 11, 2001, and could not have received military training. P was trapped in Afghanistan once that military campaign began. The District Court found that P's father was a proper next friend, appointed the federal public defender as counsel for the petitioners, and ordered that counsel be given access to P. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed in that the Court had failed to extend appropriate deference to the Government's security and intelligence interests. On remand, D filed a declaration that P 'traveled to Afghanistan' in July or August 2001, and that he thereafter 'affiliated with a Taliban military unit and received weapons training…that P 'remained with his Taliban unit following the attacks of September 11' and that, during the time when Northern Alliance forces were 'engaged in battle with the Taliban,' 'P's Taliban unit surrendered' to those forces.  P also surrender[ed] his Kalishnikov assault rifle' to them. The District Court found that the Declaration fell 'far short' of supporting P's detention. It criticized the generic and hearsay nature of the affidavit. It ordered in camera discovery. D appealed on whether the declaration it submitted was sufficient as a matter of law. The Fourth Circuit reversed.  It held because P was captured in a zone of active combat in a foreign theater of conflict,' no factual inquiry or evidentiary hearing allowing P to be heard or to rebut the Government's assertions was necessary or proper. See Ex parte Quirin, '[o]ne who takes up arms against the United States in a foreign theater of war, regardless of his citizenship, may properly be designated an enemy combatant and treated as such.' 'The privilege of citizenship entitles P to a limited judicial inquiry into his detention, but only to determine its legality under the war powers of the political branches. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.