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.
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.