Here Is Hoping That This Ruling Sticks

About 4 months ago, a US citizen was detained in Syria, and has been held incommunicado for months, and now a federal judge has granted ACLU lawyers access to him:

A federal judge has taken a major step toward rejecting the Trump administration’s campaign to prevent an American citizen detained indefinitely as an enemy combatant from challenging his captivity in court.

Not only did Judge Tanya Chutkan of the District of Columbia district court order the Pentagon to permit access to the anonymous man for his would-be attorneys, she also barred the administration from making an end run around the U.S. legal system that it has long been considering – as a tactic to avoid precisely the defeat in court that Chutkan has now delivered.

Whether and how the Trump administration complies with Chutkan’s order is the latest drama in an extraordinary case that has seen the resurrection of sweeping government claims of detentions power. The last time the government argued it could hold an American citizen in military detention without access to the courts was the early years of George W. Bush’s administration, and the Supreme Court in 2004 rejected the contention in landmark 2004 case.

Late on Saturday night, the 103rd day of the man’s captivity, Chutkan instructed the Pentagon to provide the American Civil Liberties Union with “temporary, immediate and unmonitored access” to the man, whom the military is holding somewhere in Iraq without ever releasing his name – another aspect of the government’s efforts to prevent legal intervention in the case.

The behavior of the Trump administration, and the Pentagon, have been truly contemptible in this this matter, even by the standards of the past sixteen years.

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