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Legal news from Saturday, June 13, 2009




Federal judge refuses to dismiss torture lawsuit against Bush administration lawyer
Matt Glenn on June 13, 2009 1:02 PM ET

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] ruled Friday that a torture lawsuit against former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo [academic profile; JURIST news archive] can proceed. Judge Jeffrey White refused to dismiss [San Francisco Chronicle report] a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] brought by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive] that claims Yoo's legal opinions endorsing enhanced interrogation techniques [JURIST news archive] led to Padilla being tortured. Friday's ruling was the first time a judge has allowed a lawsuit to proceed against a government lawyer for his opinion in the interrogation memos [JURIST report].

Yoo, a professor at the Berkeley School of Law [academic website] has faced sharp criticism for his role in drafting the memos. Last month, a number of organizations called for the drafters of the memos to be disbarred [JURIST report]. Also in May, former JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen told [JURIST report] an audience at the University of Nebraska College of Law [academic website] that the lawyers from the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] who had authorized the use of enhanced interrogation techniques had "disgraced not only their country but their profession." In April, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official profile; JURIST news archive], Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] renewed his call [JURIST report] for the formation of a non-partisan "truth commission" to investigate torture allegations. Also last month, UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official profile, DOC] insisted that under international law the US must prosecute [JURIST report] DOJ lawyers who drafted the memos. President Barack Obama has said that he would not rule out the possibility of prosecuting [transcript; JURIST report] lawyers who authored the memos. Padilla is currently serving a seventeen-year sentence [JURIST report] in a Colorado "supermax" prison [JURIST report] on a variety of terror-related charges.






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Three Guantanamo detainees repatriated to Saudi Arabia
Ximena Marinero on June 13, 2009 10:20 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced [press release] Friday that three Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees have been transferred to Saudi Arabia, their country of origin, where they will undergo judicial review and rehabilitation. Khalid Saad Mohammed, Abdalaziz Kareem Salim Al Noofayaee, and Ahmed Zaid Salim Zuhair were already cleared by the Bush administration, but the DOJ conducted "a comprehensive review" pursuant to President Barack Obama's executive order [text; JURIST report] that also ordered the closure within one year of the Guantanamo detainee facility. This week, one detainee was transferred to the US for trial, four Uighur detainees were transferred to Bermuda [JURIST report], one detainee was transferred to Chad [DOJ press release], and one to Iran. According to Matthew Olsen, Executive Director of the Guantanamo Review Task Force, "[t]his marks the largest number of transfers in a single week."

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates [official profile] said last month that the US would continue efforts to reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia [JURIST report] to transfer 100 Yemeni detainees who would also undergo rehabilitation, despite reports that two former prisoners have rejoined al Qaeda in Yemen. The Saudi program to rehabilitate Islamic extremists was designed with input from psychiatrists, sociologists, and Muslim clerics. The Saudi Minister of Interior [official website] reports that only nine of the 218 men who have undergone rehabilitation have been rearrested. Guantanamo detainees have been moved to over thirty countries since 2002, and there remain 229 detainees at the detention facilities in Cuba.






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