Ali v. Obama, Civil Case No. 10–1020 (RJL).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Citation741 F.Supp.2d 19
Docket NumberCivil Case No. 10–1020 (RJL).
PartiesAbdul Razak ALI, Petitioner,v.Barack H. OBAMA,1 et al., Respondents.
Decision Date11 January 2011

741 F.Supp.2d 19

Abdul Razak ALI, Petitioner,
Barack H. OBAMA,1 et al., Respondents.

Civil Case No. 10–1020 (RJL).

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Jan. 11, 2011.

[741 F.Supp.2d 20]

H. Candace Gorman, Law Office of H. Candace Gorman, Chicago, IL, Shayana Devendra Kadidal, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY, for Petitioner.Andrew I. Warden, Federal Programs Branch, Carolyn Gail Mark, Charlotte A. Abel, James J. Gilligan, John P. Lohrer, John Edward Wallace, Preeya M. Noronha, Rachelle C. Williams, Sarah Maloney, Sean W. O'Donnell, Jr., Stephen McCoy Elliott, Terry Marcus Henry, Alexander Kenneth Haas, Ann E. Nash, Dalin Riley Holyoak, David Hugh White, James J. Schwartz, Joseph Charles Folio, III, Julia A. Berman, Kathryn Celia Mason, Keith Simmons, Kristina Ann Wolfe, Mary Elizabeth Carney, Norman Christopher Hardee, Patrick D. Davis, Paul A. Dean, Robert J. Prince, Scott Douglas Levin, Thomas A. Gillice, Timothy Allen Bass, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Blanche L. Bruce, U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Respondents.

RICHARD J. LEON, District Judge.

Petitioner Abdul Razak Ali, who now claims his name to be Saeed Bakhouche (hereafter “petitioner,” “Bakhouche,” or “Razak”), is an Algerian detainee being held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He alleges that he is being unlawfully detained by President Barack H. Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, and various others in the relevant chain of command (collectively, “Respondents” or the “Government”). On December 14, 2010, this Court commenced a habeas corpus hearing for Bakhouche. That morning, counsel for both parties made unclassified opening statements in a public hearing. Petitioner listened to a live translation of the opening statements via a telephone transmission to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Thereafter, the Court went into a closed-door session to hear each side present an opening statement that included relevant classified information. Upon completion of their statements, each side presented its evidence, most of which included classified material, and arguments regarding various material issues of fact in

[741 F.Supp.2d 21]

dispute between the parties. Because these presentations were not completed by the end of the day on December 14, 2010, the Court reconvened the following day. Once again, presentations and arguments relating to various classified materials consumed most of this day and the Court, as a result, scheduled closing arguments two days later, on December 17, 2010. After hearing each side's closing arguments, the Court informed the parties that it would hold a public hearing in the near future to announce its decision. A classified version of this opinion setting forth in greater particularity the factual basis of the Court's ruling will be distributed in the upcoming weeks and issued through the Court Security Office, together with the final judgment.

Before stating the Court's ruling, a brief statement of the relevant factual and procedural background of the case is appropriate.


Petitioner is a forty-year old Algerian citizen who was captured on March 28, 2002, by Pakistani forces in a raid at a guesthouse in Faisalabad, Pakistan. He was caught together with a well known Al Qaeda facilitator: Abu Zubaydah. Indeed, Abu Zubaydah was at that very time assembling a force to attack U.S. and Allied forces. Captured along with the petitioner and Abu Zubaydah were a bevy of Abu Zubaydah's senior leadership, including instructors in engineering, small arms, English language (with an American accent), and various electrical circuitry specialists. Also found at the guesthouse were pro-al Qaeda literature, electrical components, and at least one device typically used to assemble remote bombing devices ( i.e., improvised explosive devices or “IED” s). Petitioner was transported to Bagram Air Force Base for questioning, where he was held before being transferred to the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in June 2002.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision in Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466, 124 S.Ct. 2686, 2691–92, 159 L.Ed.2d 548 (2004) (holding that 28 U.S.C. § 2241 extended statutory habeas corpus jurisdiction to Guantanamo), petitioner filed this habeas corpus petition in this Court on December 21, 2005. (Pet. For Writ of Habeas Corpus [Dkt. # 1].) The case was originally assigned to my colleague, Judge Reggie B. Walton. As with hundreds of other petitions filed around that time, no action was taken until the Supreme Court ruled on June 12, 2008, in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723, 128 S.Ct. 2229, 171 L.Ed.2d 41 (2008), that Guantanamo detainees are “entitled to the privilege of habeas corpus to challenge the legality of their detention.” ( Id. at 2262.)

Pursuant to an agreement between most of the judges of this Court, Judge Walton agreed to have Judge Thomas F. Hogan formulate the initial Case Management Order (“CMO”) which would define the procedural process ( i.e., including the burden of proof, standard of proof, and definition of enemy combatant) that would guide the litigation of these detainee cases.2 On November

[741 F.Supp.2d 22]

6, 2008, Judge Hogan issued a consolidated Case Management Order for all of the judges who had transferred their cases to him for this procedural purpose. (Case Mgm't Order, Nov. 6, 2008 [Dkt. # 689].) That CMO was amended several times thereafter by both Judge Walton ( i.e., on November 12, 2008 (Order, Nov. 12, 2008 [Dkt. # 695] ) and December 19, 2008 (Order, Dec. 19, 2008 [Dkt. # 797] )) and by Judge Hogan on December 16, 2008 (Order, Dec. 16, 2008 [Dkt. # 784] ). Ultimately, petitioner filed a Motion for an Expedited Judgment in his case on January 16, 2009. (Notice of Filing Mot. for Expedited J., Jan. 16, 2009 [Dkt. # 902].) Judge Walton issued a further supplemental Case Management Order thereafter on February 19, 2009 (Supp. Case Mgm't Order, Feb. 19, 2009 [Dkt. # 1011] ), which he amended on March 27, 2009 (Order, Mar. 27, 2009 [Dkt. # 1101] ).

On April 21, 2009, Judge Walton transferred this case to Chief Judge Lamberth for reasons of judicial economy. (Order, Apr. 21, 2009 [Dkt. # 1153].) On May 28, 2009, petitioner filed a Renewed Motion for Expedited Judgment. (Order Memorializing Oral Rulings, May 28, 2009 [Dkt. # 1190].) The Government filed its Factual Return on July 29, 2009. (Notice of Pub. Filing of Factual Return, July 29, 2009 [Dkt. # 1282].) Again on August 28, 2009, petitioner filed a Renewed Motion for Expedited Judgment. ( See Memo. and Op., Nov. 19, 2009, at n. 1 [Dkt. # 1337].) On September 24, 2009, Chief Judge Lamberth denied petitioner's motion. ( Id.)

On October 5, 2009, petitioner filed his Traverse in this case and filed motions seeking certain discovery. (Notice of Filing Traverse, Oct. 5, 2009 [Dkt. # 1317].) While this discovery process was still pending, however, petitioner moved to recuse Chief Judge Lamberth on January 29, 2010, based on public comments he had made regarding the role of the legislature in deciding issues related to detention cases. (Mot. for Recusal, Jan. 29, 2010 [Dkt. # 1361].) On June 6, 2010, Judge Lamberth issued an order recusing himself from the case. (Order, June 6, 2010 [Dkt. # 1418].) On June 16, 2010, the case was randomly reassigned to this Court. (Reassgm't of Civil Case, June 16, 2010 [Dkt. # 1419].) On August 4, 2010, I scheduled an initial status conference in this case for August 19, 2010. (Minute Entry, Aug. 4, 2010.)

On August 19, this Court met with the parties and inquired into the state of the record and remaining discovery issues, and to set a date for the merits hearing. (Minute Entry, Aug. 19, 2010.) Six days later, on August 25, 2010, I issued a CMO in this case. (Case Mgm't Order, Aug. 25, 2010 [Dkt. # 1423].) That order was virtually identical to the CMO I had issued on August 27, 2008, in Boumediene v. Bush, No. 04–cv–1166, and that I had used in the six other habeas merits hearings I held in the eight months that followed the Boumediene hearing. (No. 04–cv–1166, Case Mgm't Order, Aug. 27, 2008 [Dkt. # 142].) It was also virtually identical to the CMO I had issued just a few weeks earlier, on August 4, 2010, in Obaydullah v. Obama. (No. 08–cv–1173, Case Mgm't Order, Aug. 4, 2010 [Dkt. # 77].)

On August 26, 2010, I held a discovery hearing to address certain pending discovery requests by the petitioner. (Minute Entry, Aug. 26, 2010.) On September 10, 2010, I held a follow-up status conference to address those discovery issues further and to schedule the merits hearing in this case for October 4 and 5, 2010. (Minute Entry, Sept. 10, 2010.) On September 15, 2010, however, petitioner's counsel requested a continuance of the merits hearing to enable her to meet once again with

[741 F.Supp.2d 23]

her client in Cuba. (Mot. to...

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4 cases
  • Ali v. Trump, 18-5297
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • May 15, 2020
    ...District Court for the District of Columbia challenging his designation and detention as an enemy combatant. Ali v. Obama (Ali I) , 741 F. Supp. 2d 19, 21 (D.D.C. 2011). The district court denied the petition. Id. at 27. Applying a preponderance of the evidence standard, the district court ......
  • Ali v. Obama, 11–5102.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 3, 2013
    ...the District Court concluded that “it is more probable than not that” Ali “was in fact a member of Abu Zubaydah's force.” Ali v. Obama, 741 F.Supp.2d 19, 27 (D.D.C.2011). On appeal, Ali argues that the Government failed to justify his detention by a preponderance of the evidence. He also co......
  • Ali v. Obama, 11-5102
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 3, 2013
    ...the District Court concluded that "it is more probable than not that" Ali "was in fact a member of Abu Zubaydah's force." Ali v. Obama, 741 F. Supp. 2d 19, 27 (D.D.C. 2011). On appeal, Ali argues that the Government failed to justify his detention by a preponderance of the evidence. He also......
  • Ali v. Trump, Civil Case No. 10-cv-1020 (RJL)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • August 10, 2018 the United States Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he has been held since June 2002. Although this Court, Ali v. Obama , 741 F.Supp.2d 19 (D.D.C. 2011), and our Court of Appeals, Ali v. Obama , 736 F.3d 542 (D.C. Cir. 2013), previously determined that Ali could lawfully be de......

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