- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 20, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) Lawyers seeking the release of an American-born Taliban fighter being held on a Navy base urged an appeals court to side with the federal judge who has ordered the government to hand over more evidence in the case.
The government is appealing U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar's demand Aug. 16 that it hand over more evidence before he decides whether the United States may continue to hold Yaser Esam Hamdi without charging him nor letting him see an lawyer.
Mr. Hamdi, 22, was born in Louisiana to Saudi Arabian parents who returned to that country when Mr. Hamdi was 2. He has been detained at the Norfolk Naval Station as an "enemy combatant" since he was captured in November after a Taliban prison uprising in Afghanistan.
In a 69-page brief filed Friday in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, federal Public Defender Frank W. Dunham Jr. argues that Judge Doumar made the right decision.
"The refusal to provide due process to an American citizen imprisoned indefinitely by the military requires particular attention by the federal courts," Mr. Dunham says in the brief.
Judges have a duty to protect the separation of powers, he argues, and should not defer to the Bush administration by letting it rely on a two-page Department of Defense affidavit that public defenders say is based largely on secondhand knowledge and vague details.
"The deference accorded the military in its initial temporary detention of Hamdi overseas has no place apart from that environment," Mr. Dunham wrote.
Such deference is even more inappropriate, he said, without the approval of Congress and when "the stakes are the indefinite and perhaps permanent detention of an American citizen."
The government has argued that Judge Doumar did not have a sufficient legal basis to "pick apart" the affidavit of Michael Mobbs, special adviser to the undersecretary of defense for policy. The affidavit explains the circumstances of Mr. Hamdi's capture in Afghanistan.
Mr. Dunham has repeatedly asked Judge Doumar to allow lawyers to meet with Mr. Hamdi and to release him.
Judge Doumar had ordered the government to allow Mr. Hamdi to meet with the public defender, but the appeals court overturned that order in July.

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