Pentagon Strikes to Block Examination of Tortured Guantánamo Prisoner

WASHINGTON — In his ultimate days as Secretary of the Military, Ryan D. McCarthy has moved to thwart a federal decide’s order for an unbiased examination of a mentally ailing prisoner at Guantánamo Bay who was beforehand tortured there, the Justice Division disclosed on Friday.

Legal professionals for the prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, 45, had obtained the order in March for 2 overseas docs and one from the U.S. Military to look at the person beneath an Military regulation to find out whether or not he needs to be repatriated to his native Saudi Arabia for psychiatric care.

The Protection Division has not permitted such a medical overview for the reason that detention middle was established in January 2002, and the order was poised to change into an early check of the Biden administration as it considers resuming releases from Guantánamo.

However on Friday, Justice Division legal professionals notified the U.S. District Courtroom in Washington that Mr. McCarthy had signed a two-page memorandum on Monday excluding detainees at Guantánamo from the regulation that was the idea of the courtroom order.

In March, Choose Rosemary M. Collyer dominated that the regulation required the medical review, and that if the docs discovered repatriating Mr. Qahtani to Saudi Arabia was in his greatest curiosity, she would order it.

The order rattled the Protection Division, which has fought for almost twenty years to dam civilian courts from deciding questions involving the detainees. Officers warned that, if an examination have been carried out, others among the many present 40 detainees would search medical repatriation.

Choose Collyer has since retired, and one other decide, Ellen Segal Huvelle, upheld the order in August. The subsequent month an appeals courtroom rejected a government pleading to delay the examination, leaving the Trump administration with a quandary: Allow the primary ever decisive exterior analysis of a Guantánamo detainee or, as earlier administrations have performed to keep away from courtroom orders to launch a detainee, voluntarily switch Mr. Qahtani to a psychiatric hospital in Saudi Arabia.

It did neither, citing restrictions at Guantánamo throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Given Mr. McCarthy’s choice to change the regulation, the Justice Department on Friday requested the courtroom to vacate Choose Collyer’s order. “Your entire authorized foundation underlying this courtroom’s March 2020 Order has evaporated,” it mentioned.

As soon as Mr. Biden takes workplace subsequent week, his Justice Division may select to take care of the identical place or withdraw the request to the courtroom.

Mr. Qahtani’s lawyer, Ramzi Kassem, referred to as the transfer “a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to lock Joe Biden right into a path of resisting the unbiased medical examination of a mentally ailing man that the federal government has admitted torturing.”

Mr. Qahtani, who was identified with schizophrenia, was captured alongside the Pakistan-Afghanistan border three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults and subjected to 2 months of steady, brutal interrogation at Camp X-Ray at Guantánamo in late 2002 and early 2003.

Leaked paperwork present that Mr. Qahtani was disadvantaged of sleep and water, stored nude and was menaced by canines, whereas beneath the care of army medics.

“There isn’t any actual query that the examination will verify my shopper’s extreme diseases and result in his medical repatriation,” mentioned Mr. Kassem, a legislation professor whose clinic at Metropolis College of New York represents Mr. Qahtani.

Mr. Qahtani has been suspected of being one in all a number of failed, aspirational twentieth hijackers within the Sept. 11 assaults. However he has by no means been charged with a criminal offense, partly as a result of he was tortured.

Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor on the College of Texas College of Legislation who follows Guantánamo litigation, mentioned the Military secretary has the authority to change a regulation however the query doubtless confronting the courtroom can be “whether or not the change is procedurally legitimate and whether or not it may be utilized retroactively to this pending case.”

He additionally referred to as the timing suspicious, days earlier than Mr. McCarthy is relieved as Military secretary. “They misplaced on the rule. So that they modified the rule.” He referred to as it “a fairly shady approach to duck the difficulty.”

A Pentagon spokesman, Mike Howard, declined to touch upon the change, together with whether or not the Division of Protection’s common counsel was consulted beforehand.

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