BREAKING NEWS West Lafayette City Councilor Norris Wang dies over weekend Full Story

ACLU challenge in case of American detained as ISIS fighter targets 9/11 law

The legal battle over the detention of a US citizen accused of fighting for ISIS entered a significant new phase Frid...

Posted: Feb 10, 2018 7:01 PM
Updated: Feb 10, 2018 7:01 PM

The legal battle over the detention of a US citizen accused of fighting for ISIS entered a significant new phase Friday as his attorneys submitted a filing that experts say could set up a showdown over the legal underpinning of today's war on terror.

The case of the unnamed American held as an enemy combatant in US military custody in Iraq has moved quietly over a series of procedural hurdles since he was turned over to US forces by an American-backed militia in Syria last September.

Judge says Pentagon must give notice if planning to transfer US detainee it alleges fought for ISIS

Now, after successfully inserting itself as a representative for "John Doe" and securing an order from a DC federal judge that would prevent his immediate transfer to a third country, the American Civil Liberties Union argued Friday that the US government acted illegally by detaining the man, potentially setting up a major test of the controversial post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

"For nearly five months, the government has been detaining an American citizen without charge or trial, based on legal theories that no court has ever endorsed," the ACLU wrote in its filing.

At issue is whether the government can use the military force statute -- signed into law in the days following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and granting the US president the power to target those responsible for the attacks -- to detain an individual accused of fighting for ISIS.

Under the law, the president can use force against "those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such organizations or persons." The US has blamed al Qaeda for the attacks, and the group's late leader, Osama bin Laden, claimed responsibility for them.

"The answers to these questions are not clear, and if I were the government I would not want to risk litigating them," said Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School and former Pentagon adviser on detainee issues.

The Authorization for Use of Military Force has been debated and reinterpreted over the years to match a changing enemy, but despite scrutiny it has avoided a significant challenge in Congress or the courts and remains the basis of the ongoing fight against ISIS, a group that originally called itself al Qaeda in Iraq.

Friday's court filing could represent the first serious challenge to the law.

In an interview before the ACLU filing, a Justice Department official said there were a "variety of possibilities" under which the government believes it can detain Doe, including the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, a second such authorization signed in 2002 that provided the legal basis for the Iraq War and the president's war powers under Article 2 of the Constitution.

"We are very confident that we have a strong legal and factual basis to detain this person as an enemy combatant and are fully prepared to defend our authority to do that if that's what ends up being our decision about what the best outcome is for this guy," the official said.

The ACLU also provides in the filing the first public account of the detainee's story, writing that he "sought to understand firsthand and report about the conflict in Syria" and "was kidnapped and imprisoned by ISIS" and "tried numerous times to escape."

"Not even the government alleges that he ever took up arms against the United States or anyone else," the ACLU writes.

In its filing, the ACLU also rebuts the government's defense of the detention under the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force and the president's constitutional powers.

In a briefing schedule, the federal judge presiding in the case allows for the Justice Department to submit a further response to the ACLU's Friday filing.

The government could also bring criminal charges against Doe, a dual Saudi national, in US civilian court, or, as it has floated in previous hearings, attempt to transfer his custody to a third country.

If Judge Tanya Chutkan does, however, eventually rule in favor of the ACLU's petition against Doe's detention, she could open the door to a greater challenge to the use of the Authorization for Use of Military Force in the global war on terror, Waxman said.

"Detaining an American citizen fighting for ISIS in Syria puts this whole controversial argument about the AUMF before a court, because he has a right of habeas corpus to challenge his detention," Waxman said.

"If the government were to lose this argument, the detention case would call into question the entire legal framework of counter-ISIS operations," he said.

Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 22°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 16°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 14°
Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 22°
Danville
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 27°
Frankfort
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 16°
Frankfort
Mostly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 16°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 14°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 14°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 15°
More more snow showers ahead....
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
Wabash293045
Ripley292345
Putnam284847
Huntington283557
Jasper282433
White267538
Daviess261672
Jefferson250738
Fayette242348
Decatur242182
Greene233360
Posey232326
Wells229447
LaGrange224161
Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
Unassigned0374

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events