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Jawad v. Gates

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

August 12, 2016

Mohammed Jawad, also known as Saki Bacha, Appellant
Robert M. Gates, Former Secretary of Defense, et al., Appellees

          Argued April 5, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:14-cv-00811)

          Eric S. Montalvo argued the cause and filed the briefs for appellant.

          Steven D. Schwinn was on the brief for amicus curiae The John Marshall Law School International Human Rights Clinic in support of plaintiff-appellant.

          Lewis Yelin, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Benjamin C. Mizer, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and Matthew M. Collette, Attorney.

          Before: Griffith, Srinivasan, and Wilkins, Circuit Judges.


          Griffith, Circuit Judge.

         The United States detained Mohammed Jawad at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for more than six years until he was released and returned to his native Afghanistan in 2009. He has filed a damages action against the United States and various federal officials, alleging that they subjected him to torture while he was in their custody. We affirm the district court's dismissal of Jawad's complaint because the federal courts lack jurisdiction to hear his claims.


         Because we are reviewing the dismissal of Jawad's complaint, we take his allegations as true and recite the facts in the light most favorable to him. See Klay v. Panetta, 758 F.3d 369, 371 (D.C. Cir. 2014).

         In December 2002, when Jawad was about 15 years old, Afghan authorities captured him following a grenade attack that badly injured two U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter. The Afghan officials subjected Jawad to cruel and abusive treatment and forced him to sign a prepared confession. They gave the coerced confession to American military authorities in Afghanistan, who detained Jawad. While in their custody, Jawad was abused by American military authorities. Under intense and prolonged questioning, Jawad initially denied responsibility for the grenade attack, but later he confessed. Later still, he recanted his confession.

         In February 2003, Jawad was transferred to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, where the cruel treatment continued. Despite his age, he was not housed in a facility for juveniles. He spent the majority of his first year at Guantanamo "in social, physical, and linguistic isolation, " and even attempted suicide. For two weeks in May 2004, Jawad was "repeatedly mov[ed] . . . from one cell to another in quick intervals throughout the night to disrupt sleep cycles, on average every three hours." J.A. 30-31. Over the course of his detention at Guantanamo, he was interrogated more than 60 times, even after the government decided he had no useful intelligence. These interrogations included "various forms of cruel treatment such as excessive cold, loud noise, beatings, pepper-spray, and being shackled for prolonged periods." J.A. 29.

         Pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. No. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224 (2001), the President may "detain enemy combatants 'for the duration of the particular conflict in which they were captured."' Al Janko v. Gates, 741 F.3d 136, 138 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (quoting Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 518 (2004) (plurality opinion)). To determine whether an individual is properly detained as an enemy combatant, wholly apart from whether that person can be punished for his alleged crimes by a military commission, each detainee appears before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT). See id. In 2004, a CSRT determined that Jawad was properly detained as an enemy combatant. In 2005 and again in 2006, Administrative Review Boards (ARBs) concluded that there was sufficient reason to continue his detention. In rendering its decision, each tribunal "relied heavily" on Jawad's "alleged confessions." J.A. 33.

         In 2007, the United States charged Jawad under the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006 with three counts of attempted murder in violation of the law of war and three counts of intentionally causing serious bodily injury. The latter three counts were eventually dismissed as lesser included offenses. In September 2008, after prosecutors expressed their intent to use Jawad's confessions, his counsel moved to suppress them as the product of torture. In November 2008, the military commission judge agreed and suppressed the confessions. The ...

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