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Guantanamo Detainee al-Slahi Wins Habeas Case

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A suspected al Qaeda organizer once called “the highest value detainee” at Guantánamo Bay was ordered released by a federal judge in an order issued Monday.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi was accused in the 9/11 Commission report of helping recruit Mohammed Atta and other members of the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, that took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

That doesn’t mean Slahi’s release from Guantanamo Bay is imminent, or even definite, said Nancy Hollander, the Albuquerque-based attorney who argued Slahi’s habeas case. “There’s figuring out where he can go, and if the government is going to move for a stay or an appeal,” Hollander said, adding that Slahi “doesn’t even know yet” that he won his case. Nor has Hollander read it: The ruling, by Judge James Robertson, is classified. Hollander or an associate will have to travel to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia just to have a hope of reading it.

For a sampling of what Slahi experienced at Guantanamo, check out page 139 of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s 2008 report into the abuse of detainees in the custody of the Department of Defense:

The memoranda indicate that, on several occasions from July 8 through July 17, Slahi was interrogated by a masked interrogator called “Mr. X.” On July 8, 2003 Slahi was interrogated by Mr. X and was “exposed to various lighting patterns and rock music, to the tune of Drowning Pool’s ‘Let The Bodies Hit [the] Floor.’” On July 10, 2003 Slahi was placed in an interrogation room handcuffed and standing while the air conditioning was turned off until the room became “quite warm.” The next day, Slahi was brought into the interrogation booth and again remained standing and handcuffed while the air conditioning was again turned off. After allowing Slahi to sit, the interrogator later “took [Slahi's] chair and left him standing for several hours.” According to the memo, Slahi was “visibly uncomfortable and showed signs of fatigue. This was 4th day of long duration interrogations.”

On July 17, 2003, the masked interrogator told Slahi about a dream he had where he saw “four detainees that were chained together at the feet. They dug a hole that was six feet long, six feet deep, and four feet wide. Then he observed the detainees throw a plain, unpainted, pine casket with the number 760 [Slahi's internment serial number (ISN)] painted on it in orange on the ground.”

On August 2, 2003 an interrogator told Slahi “to use his imagination and think up the worst possible thing that could happen to him” and asked him “what scares him more than anything else.”

Yet Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did not approve a “special interrogation plan” for Slahi until August 12, 2003 — five days after Slahi apparently broke by the interrogation. Even after that, Slahi was “interrogated” to the point where he told a Guantanamo psychologist he was “hearing voices” in his head, and a military prosecutor assigned to his case said he was “very concerned about the allegations of detainee abuse at GTMO and Afghanistan.” That prosecutor, Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, would refuse to participate in Slahi’s prosecution after learning about what was done to Slahi during “interrogation.”

Asked to describe her reaction when she heard that she won Slahi’s habeas case, Hollander responded, “Joy.”

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