Iraq (Pontiac) – An American who’s been detained by US forces in Iraq since the summer will receive legal representation, a judge ruled. The unidentified person was reported captured in Syria near Raqqa, accused of fighting for the Islamic State.
Initially, the Trump Administration resisted allowing anyone to contact the detainee. Their captivity was announced in September 2017, with officials stating the individual was captured by US-backed rebels. He was accused of fighting for the Islamic State, then transferred to unidentified US forces associated with the Department of Defense. Since then, they’ve sat in an unknown facility in Iraq awaiting legal representation and official charges.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) quickly mobilized to connect with the American, who’d likely been interrogated. For weeks, they were blocked by the DoD and Trump Administration which went as far as to suggest they don’t need to follow certain constitutional guidelines in this case. They even told the court that ACLU has no basis to get involved in the detainee’s case.
After much legal sparing, Reuters reports, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled ACLU is, in fact, entitled to access the person. That meeting is to be “unmonitored” and immediate, allowing the detainee to review their possibilities for legal representation. By issuing the ruling, Judge Chutkan denied the Trump Administration’s attempt to block ACLU. Judge Chutkan also commented on the troubling precedent the government is setting by deciding when or if the detainee gets legal representation. Sources close to ACLU’s case are aware that the detainee has already faced FBI interviews.
Pontiac Tribune reached out to ACLU regarding the case, but were unsuccessful. Although the non-profit stated it didn’t have anyone on deck to answer Pontiac’s questions, they provided links to updated materials on their website. According to one blog, the American government is considering transferring the detainee from Iraq, to Saudi Arabia. Whether this is in response to the ACLU’s court victory remains to be seen. It’s similarly unclear if being transferred to Iraq would affect ACLU’s ability to communicate with the detainee in the future, or whether this represents an change in jurisdiction.
Looming in the background of the entire drama is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill essentially allows the government to detain or imprison anyone, indefinitely, anywhere in the world using the War On Terror as an umbrella. Several groups including People Against The NDAA (PANDA), which we spoke to for it’s last piece on the case, see NDAA as one of the most dangerous bills of it’s kind. Shades of NDAA are clearly reflected in this case, and can also be sensed at home in certain police facilities.
The Islamic State held the Syrian town of Raqqa for close to a year, using it as a counterpart to Mosul in Iraq. Both areas were used as centers for their caliphate, and both are also info black holes. Very little gets out of both towns, which are flooded with militants, rebel groups, and US special operations. Several discoveries, including detainee’s and weapons cache’s, have been discovered since the group lost control of Mosul and Raqqa.
As the months continue, we’ll no doubt have to depend on ACLU for updates on the detainee. Coverage of their captivity has been limited in mainstream media, though the cases implications aren’t muted. Will this case result in new policies under the Trump Administration facilitating similar detention actions at home? That’s the danger of the NDAA, and other actions which superseded the criminal justice system, and constitution.