Archives: October 2009

The Guantanamo detainee case Kiyemba v. Obama is a potentially landmark separation-of-powers case headed for the US Supreme Court in March 2010, with major policy issues and the futures of 13 detainees at stake. In this multi-part story, I will try to dig into the background and questions raised by the case. This is a follow-up to Part I: Jamal Kiyemba’s long journey home.

Part II: New borders

Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote for the majority:

Seventeen Chinese citizens currently held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, brought petitions for writs of habeas corpus. … The question is whether [they] are entitled to an order requiring the [US] government to bring them to the United States and release them here.

This opening paragraph of the decision by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in February of 2009 introduced a document that dramatically altered the fate of those seventeen men. The men had previously been ordered by a lower court to be freed inside the United States, but the Executive branch appealed, saying the lower court had no such authority. Subsequently, the question that Judge Randolph introduced above was answered: no. No, the seventeen men will not be released into the United States, and unlike Jamal Kiyemba, they can not go home because they fear persecution by the Chinese government. There are thirteen of them now; four were released to Bermuda in June. They wait, still at Guantanamo Bay, for the slow wheels of American justice to make one final revolution as their case heads to the Supreme Court.

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The Guantanamo detainee case Kiyemba v. Obama is a potentially landmark separation-of-powers case headed for the US Supreme Court in March 2010, with major policy issues and the futures of 13 detainees at stake. In this multi-part story, I will try to dig into the background and questions raised by the case.

PART I: Jamal Kiyemba’s long journey home

Jamal Kiyemba doesn’t have anything to do with the case coming before the Supreme Court in 2010. He is a free man; he lives in Uganda, and as well as anyone might expect after what he went though, he is apparently leading a normal life there. But his full-circle journey, one that spanned four continents, is necessary prologue to the legal battle that wages on today under his name.

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