Bensayah v. Obama

610 F.3d 718 (2010)

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Bensayah v. Obama

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
610 F.3d 718 (2010)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

In late 2001, Algerian citizen Belkacem Bensayah (plaintiff) was arrested in Bosnia on immigration charges. Bensayah and five other men were suspected of plotting to attack a United States embassy in Sarajevo. Bensayah and the men were eventually released from Bosnian prison due to lack of evidence and turned over to the United States government (defendant). Pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the government designated the men as enemy combatants and detained them at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. The detainees filed petitions for writ of habeas corpus, challenging their detentions as unlawful. The other five men were released for lack of evidence. As to Bensayah, the government adduced several pieces of evidence to show that he was a travel facilitator for al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization. The government’s primary piece of evidence was a classified document, which was not independently reliable because it was based on an unnamed source. Several other categories of evidence, however, corroborated the classified document. Some evidence linked Bensayah to a senior al-Qaeda facilitator, some evidence showed that Bensayah had a history of traveling using false passports, and some evidence created doubt as to Bensayah’s credibility. On the whole, based on a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, the district court found that Bensayah had supported al-Qaeda and, as such, the government was authorized to legally detain him at Guantanamo Bay. On Bensayah’s appeal, the government changed its legal position to assert that a person had to be a functional part of al-Qaeda for his detention to be lawful under AUMF.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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