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Feds oppose lawyer meeting with 'enemy combatant'

Hamdi, center, was captured in Afghanistan and declared an 'enemy combatant.'
Hamdi, center, was captured in Afghanistan and declared an 'enemy combatant.'  

From Bob Franken
CNN Washington Bureau

RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) -- Federal government attorneys have petitioned the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court ruling that would allow the so-called "second Taliban American" to be interviewed by an attorney.

Yasir Hamdi has been held -- virtually incommunicado -- in the Norfolk, Virginia, Naval Station brig since he was relocated from the detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. The change occurred after officials decided that the Saudi, who was born in Louisiana, might be a United States citizen.

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The lower court judge last week ordered that a federal public defender be given access to Hamdi and that a habeus corpus hearing be scheduled so the government could justify continuing to hold him.

Habeus corpus is a legal writ ordering that a person be brought before a court. The writ places the burden of proof on those detaining a person to justify the detention.

The habeus corpus hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.

Prosecutors managed to get the 4th Circuit to stay that order and now they argue that "...once the military has shown ... that it has determined that the detainee is an enemy combatant ... the court may not second guess the military's enemy combatant determination".

In addition, they contend that allowing access "directly implicates vital national security interests in defending the nation against an unprecedented, unconventional and savage enemy."

Hamdi is the only U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan and brought to the United States without civilian criminal charges. Hamdi is held under military authority, having been declared an "enemy combatant."

John Walker Lindh, the other "Taliban American," has been criminally charged in a civilian court.




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