Christy Hardin SmithCommunity

Al-Marri Indicted in US Court. World Does Not End.

Honestly, some days the stupid just gets overwhelming. None more blatantly idiotic over the last few years than the extent to which our nation’s legal system was end-run for reasons that are still not quite apparent beyond "because we said so and we want to, so there."

Al-Marri was indicted in a US court in Peoria, IL, this past week.  Note that the world has not come to an end.

Jane Mayer, whose reporting on so many aspects of this and many other legal rights issues has been exceptional, pulled a copy and uploaded the indictment once it was unsealed.  

It reads to me like a standard material support and conspiracy under 18 USC 2339A and 18 USC 2339B.  With scant else beyond a bare bones recitation of rote charge under the confines of the law.

There are not many details in the indictment beyond this — but information will come out at trial regarding the underlying evidence.  And between now and then, there will be multiple filings in the case for ascertaining some of the finer points.  We’ll certainly be watching for them.

In the meantime,  lead defense counsel, Jonathan Hafetz of the ACLU, released a statement yesterday regarding the also-pending SCOTUS appeal on al-Marri’s detention for more than 5 years and counting without charge or trial:

The legal issues raised by the Supreme Court case are neither settled nor rendered moot by today’s indictment. We will continue to pursue Mr. al-Marri’s case to make sure that no American citizen or lawful resident will ever again be imprisoned without charge or trial. It is critical that the Court hears Mr. al-Marri’s case and categorically rejects the notion that any president has the sweeping authority to deprive individuals living in the United States of their most basic constitutional rights by designating them ‘enemy combatants.’

My information is that ACLU intends to push forward with the case, despite an attempt by Obama’s DOJ to have SCOTUS declare the case moot.  The rationale is that failure to gain a SCOTUS ruling on these issues will leave it open for subsequent administrations to use this same sort of legal black hole detention in future settings without some judgment being rendered as to legality.  

Given the make-up of the current SCOTUS, this is not without risk, clearly, but an argument needs to be placed ont he record in their opinion nonetheless.

Here’s the press release from DOJ after the indictment was brought. ACLUBlog has more. As does NYTimes, WaPo, and dday at digby’s. For some background on Al-Marri, see Jane Mayer’s piece from earlier this month that I discussed here, as well as some background from Marty Lederman.

And, what may be the most intriguing of all the information swirling about, a brief piece from the Peoria newspaper regarding the attorney who first represented al-Marri before he was pulled into the enemy combatant detention black hole.

"We were negotiating the terms of SAMs (special administrative measures) when he was declared an enemy combatant and taken away," he said, referring to special rules imposed upon attorneys of defendants deemed a high risk by the government….

Bush’s move meant Smith only had a few more discussions past that initial jail cell meeting, all over the phone. Al-Marri was always cordial, he said.

No question about what the lawyer did or did not do in the wake of said detention, though. Will see if I can get some answers on that because I’m awfully curious about what happened next.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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