Hamdi v. Rumsfeld
United States citizen Yaser Esam Hamdi was fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 when he was captured by the U.S. military. Hamdi has been detained since his capture without access to an attorney, and is currently located at a naval base in Norfolk, Virginia. The government has labeled Hamdi an "enemy combatant," and claims it may hold him in custody until the war in Afghanistan ends. Hamdi filed suit challenging the validity of this classification and his detention. The district court ordered the government to produce various documents demonstrating that Hamdi is an enemy combatant. However, the Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that although Hamdi does have the ability as a U.S. citizen to file a habeas corpus proceeding challenging the legality of his detention, that does not entitle him to court review of the factual basis for his designation as an enemy combatant. Additionally, the appeals court found Hamdi's detention without access to a lawyer to be a legitimate exercise of the government's war powers.
1. Does the Constitution permit Executive officials to detain an American citizen indefinitely in military custody in the United States, hold him essentially incommunicado and deny him access to counsel, with no opportunity to question the factual basis for his detention before any impartial tribunal, on the sole ground that he was seized abroad in a theater of the War on Terrorism and declared by the Executive to be an "enemy combatant?"
2. Is the indefinite detention of an American citizen seized abroad but held in the United States solely on the assertion of Executive officials that he is an "enemy combatant" permissible under applicable congressional statutes and treaty provisions?
3. In a habeas corpus proceeding challenging the indefinite detention of an American citizen seized abroad, detained in the United States, and declared by Executive officials to be an "enemy combatant," does the separation of powers doctrine preclude a federal court from following ordinary statutory procedures and conducting an inquiry into the factual basis for the Executive branch's asserted justification of the detention?