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Scrutinizing Holder’s Actions on Guantanamo — And Beyond

Releasing terror trainees into the U.S. is not just politically problematic — it may be illegal, points out a letter PJM has obtained.

by
Jennifer Rubin

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April 5, 2009 - 1:03 am
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Attorney General Eric Holder announced last month that some of the detainees currently housed at Guantanamo may be released into the U.S. This reportedly would include 17 Uighur detainees who received military training in terrorist camps in Afghanistan. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair went so far as to declare that those released might get some sort of public assistance to “start a new life.” (Perhaps a flat screen TV too?)

Senator Jeff Sessions, a former prosecutor and judge, clearly did not like what he was hearing. On April 2, he wrote a letter to Holder. It seems there is a legal problem with this scheme — aside from the political firestorm which would follow the release of terror trainees into the U.S.  The letter, which was made available to PJ Media, reads in part:

Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held in Kiyemba v. Obama, 555 F. 3d 1002 (D.C. Cir. 2009), the federal courts lack the constitutional authority to order the release of the Uighur detainees into the United States.  … (“[N]ever in the history of habeas corpus has any court thought it had the power to order an alien held overseas brought into the sovereign territory of a nation and released into the general population.”) Accordingly, the Obama administration is under no obligation to release the Uighurs or any other Guantanamo detainees into the United States. In fact, the administration is likely legally barred from admitting the Uighurs or other dangerous detainees into the United States.

In 2005, Congress enacted a clear prohibition on the admission of any alien who had engaged in various forms of terrorist activity or training. The prohibition, which is codified at 8 U.S.C. Section 1182(a)(3)(B), includes a range of terrorist-related activities, including receiving military-type training “from or on behalf of any organization that, at the time the training was received, was a terrorist organization.” … The Uighurs received military training at camps run by the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, a known terrorist organization. Accordingly, the Uighurs should be deemed inadmissible to the United States under federal law. Other Guantanamo detainees appear to fall within the disqualifying provisions of Section 1182(a)(3)(B) and would similarly be deemed inadmissible.

Sessions also queried Holder as to what “legislative authority, if any, exists” for providing detainees with a “new lease on life” stipend.

Well, it would be odd indeed that the attorney general, before advertising the administration’s intentions, would not have first examined whether a policy directive of the administration ran afoul of federal law. But then as we saw this week, Holder is a man on a mission — to make sure the Obama policy directives get no legal push back from the Justice Department.

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