Pentagon Strikes to Block Examination of Tortured Guantánamo Prisoner


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

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

The Protection Division has not permitted such a medical evaluate because the detention middle was established in January 2002, and the order was poised to change into an early take a look at of the Biden administration as it considers resuming releases from Guantánamo.

However on Friday, Justice Division attorneys 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 premise of the courtroom order.

In March, Decide Rosemary M. Collyer dominated that the regulation required the medical review, and that if the medical doctors 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 practically twenty years to dam civilian courts from deciding questions involving the detainees. Officers warned that, if an examination had been performed, others among the many present 40 detainees would search medical repatriation.

Decide Collyer has since retired, and one other choose, Ellen Segal Huvelle, upheld the order in August. The following month an appeals courtroom rejected a government pleading to delay the examination, leaving the Trump administration with a quandary: Allow the primary ever decisive outdoors analysis of a Guantánamo detainee or, as earlier administrations have carried out 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 in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Given Mr. McCarthy’s resolution to change the regulation, the Justice Department on Friday requested the courtroom to vacate Decide Collyer’s order. “The complete authorized foundation underlying this courtroom’s March 2020 Order has evaporated,” it stated.

As soon as Mr. Biden takes workplace subsequent week, his Justice Division might select to keep up the identical place or withdraw the request to the courtroom.

Mr. Qahtani’s lawyer, Ramzi Kassem, known as the transfer “a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to lock Joe Biden right into a path of resisting the impartial medical examination of a mentally in poor health 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 canine, whereas below the care of navy medics.

“There is no such thing as a actual query that the examination will affirm my consumer’s extreme sicknesses and result in his medical repatriation,” stated Mr. Kassem, a legislation professor whose clinic at Metropolis College of New York represents Mr. Qahtani.

Mr. Qahtani has been suspected of being certainly one of 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 Regulation who follows Guantánamo litigation, stated the Military secretary has the authority to switch a regulation however the query possible confronting the courtroom will probably be “whether or not the change is procedurally legitimate and whether or not it may be utilized retroactively to this pending case.”

He additionally known 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 known as it “a fairly shady strategy 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.