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Allaithi v. Rumsfeld: D.C. Circuit Affirms

Jane Chong
Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 2:06 PM
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit handed down its decision in Allaithi v.

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A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit handed down its decision in Allaithi v. Rumsfeld today, affirming the district court's ruling that six detainees subjected to prolonged detention and alleged mistreatment at Guantanamo did not sufficiently allege that the officials who authorized and supervised their detention acted outside the scope of their employment. At the outset, Judge Brown (also writing for Judge Tatel and Senior Judge Randolph) rejects the claims of Yuksel Celikgogus, Ibrahim Sen, and Nuri Mert, three detainee appellants who were returned to their home country of Turkey, but without any determination by the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs).  (The appellants argue in their briefs that CSRT clearance marked the end of their jailers' duties.)  The decision focuses instead on Sami Allaithi, Zakirjan Hasam, and Abu Muhammad, who were each cleared before a CSRT and no longer classified as suspected enemy combatants---but whose detention continued thereafter for ten months, a year and a half, and two years, respectively. Judge Brown writes:
Though we are presented with an extensive chronology of events with multiple players, the actions at issue can be divided into two. First, we have the continued detention of the plaintiffs post-CSRT clearance. Second, we have all acts attendant to that continued detention—the allegations of torture, religious desecration, etc., that occurred during the post-clearance period. We conclude that claims in both categories, as pled, fail to support the conclusion that the defendants acted outside the scope of their employment.
In particular, the panel concludes that Rasul I and Rasul II foreclose the detainees' contention that the district court erred in dismissing their RFRA and Bivens claims. The panel also disposes of a claim founded on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, by "declin[ing] to entertain the Appellants' bare-bones contention that the treaty confers a private right of action."

Jane Chong is former deputy managing editor of Lawfare. She served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and is a graduate of Yale Law School and Duke University.

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