[Marxism] U.S. Considers Releasing Yaser Hamdi

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 12 07:11:26 MDT 2004

(It seems they had so little on him that they didn't want
to present any kind of case in a court of law. Instead, 
they wanted to leave established the precedent of having 
been able to hold him all this time without any kind of 
hearing before a judge. There's been too much publicity
and so his name is actually known. Otherwise, they might
have simply killed him and hidden the body as they seem
to have done to how many thousands of others recently? 
Hamdi will have to renounce his US citizenship and agree
not to sue them for what they've done to him in the now
nearly THREE YEARS since they've had him in custody, so
they'll get a great deal out of Yaser Hamdi's treatment!
http://www.granma.cu/ingles/abril03/mar29/noprob.html )

August 11, 2004 9:46 p.m. EDT 
U.S. Considers Releasing Citizen
Who Was Caught in Afghanistan

August 11, 2004 9:46 p.m.

The Bush administration soon may release a U.S. citizen it
has jailed for nearly three years as an enemy combatant.
The move would be the latest consequence of Supreme Court
rulings that placed the government's aggressive detention
policies under judicial oversight.

Yaser Esam Hamdi, born in Louisiana to Saudi parents and
raised in Saudi Arabia, was captured in November 2001 in
Afghanistan, where he allegedly fought for the Taliban. In
court papers filed yesterday, the government and Mr.
Hamdi's lawyer asked for 21 days to try to negotiate "terms
and conditions acceptable to both parties that would allow
Mr. Hamdi to be released."

Lawyers in the case suggested a possible deal could involve
Mr. Hamdi, 23 years old, renouncing his U.S. citizenship in
favor of Saudi Arabia and being returned there on a promise
not to take up arms against the U.S. or to sue the U.S.
government for its treatment of him.

That would grant Mr. Hamdi a far more lenient fate than
John Walker Lindh, another young American captured in
Afghanistan after carrying arms with a Taliban unit. Rather
than hold Mr. Lindh as an enemy combatant, the government
prosecuted him in federal court for providing material
support to the Taliban, an activity banned under U.S.
sanctions. In a plea bargain, Mr. Lindh received a 20-year

Mr. Hamdi initially was sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but
he was transferred to a stateside brig after authorities
recognized his U.S. citizenship and realized a lawsuit
seeking his release was likely. Administration lawyers
hoped that by moving Mr. Hamdi from Guantanamo, any court
victories he might win wouldn't affect their policy of
holding non-U.S. citizens outside judicial oversight at the
offshore prison. The Supreme Court frustrated those hopes,
however, by ruling in separate cases that both Mr. Hamdi
and the Guantanamo prisoners were entitled to seek freedom
in federal court.

A separate case for the release of another U.S. citizen
jailed as an enemy combatant, Jose Padilla, is pending.

Rather than defend before a judge Mr. Hamdi's continued
detention, the administration would prefer to find a way to
release him, a government official said. It is customary to
release prisoners of war after hostilities end, the
official noted, and Mr. Hamdi, who allegedly once carried
an AK-47 for the Taliban, has little prospect of rejoining
the fundamentalist Afghan movement, the official said.

"I've been arguing that they really have the wrong guy
here," said Frank Dunham, the federal public defender in
Alexandria, Va., representing Mr. Hamdi. Mr. Dunham filed
suit to free Mr. Hamdi shortly after the prisoner was
shipped to a Norfolk, Va., brig in 2002. He since has been
moved to a brig in Charleston, S.C. The government
initially refused to let Mr. Dunham meet with Mr. Hamdi,
asserting that doing so could interfere with
interrogations, but later relented as Supreme Court
argument loomed.

Mr. Dunham said he approached the government about a deal
after the high court agreed to take the case, and "they
started seriously responding to us after the Supreme Court
decision came down." The Supreme Court handed down its
decision in June. Mr. Dunham said his legal team "helped
persuade them that they aren't letting a terrorist go.
That's one of the reasons it's good to have counsel."

The U.S. no longer considers Mr. Hamdi a serious threat.
"Obviously we would not agree to any release unless we were
sure that conditions were in place to protect the country,"
the government official said. "You've never heard anything
trickle out from us that he was a [terrorist] mastermind."

Write to Jess Bravin at jess.bravin at wsj.com1

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