Thursday, December 22, 2011
Judge Richard Leon (D.D.C.) today dismissed the torture claims of Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak Al Janko, a Syrian national detained at Guantanamo Bay and the first detainee released on habeas to seek damages for actions taken while he was in custody.
Al Janko sued the U.S. government, 20 high level officials, and 100 Jane and John Does for 18 counts of torture and civil conspiracy under the Constitution, the Alien Tort Statute, and the Federal Tort Claims Act. Judge Leon dismissed all his counts under the jurisdisction-stripping provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2241(e), which says:
[N]o court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention . . . treatment . . . or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the United States and has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.
(Judge Leon's emphasis.)
Judge Leon rejected Al Janko's argument that he won his habeas case and therefore wasn't "determined by the United States to have been properly detained," because "United States" here refers to the executive, not the judiciary.
Judge Leon wrote that Al Janko's claims against the government would have failed under the ATS and FTCA even absent the MCA's jurisdiction-stripping provision, because the government didn't waive sovereign immunity for this kind of claim.