The full federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., has upheld its finding that a U.S. citizen designated an “enemy combatant” can be jailed indefinitely without a lawyer. The decision sets up a Supreme Court test. Yesterday’s 8 to 4 ruling was in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a Louisiana-born man designated an “enemy combatant” by the military after he was captured in November 2001 while fighting with Taliban troops in Afghanistan.
The Washington Post says that Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, who co-wrote the original decision, was more forceful yesterday. “The ingredients essential to military success — its planning, tactics, and intelligence — are beyond our ken, and the courtroom is a poor vantage point for the breadth of comprehension that is required to conduct a military campaign on foreign soil,” he wrote.
In dissent, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, said that the decision “marks the first time in our history that a federal court has approved the elimination of protections afforded a citizen by the Constitution solely on the basis of the Executive’s designation of that citizen as an enemy combatant.” Frank W. Dunham Jr., the federal public defender who represented Hamdi, will ask for a Supreme Court review.