Defending Rights & Dissent Statement on US Citizen Being Held Without Charge By US Military

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Defending Rights & Dissent strongly condemns the US military’s detention, without charge, of an unidentified US citizen.

For over three weeks now, the US military has held a US citizen captured in Syria without charge. Scant information is available about this individual. We do not their name or even where they are being held (though some reports would indicate Iraq). What we do know is that on September 12, 2017, a US citizen surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces, and was turned  over to the US military. The Pentagon is reporting that this person is being detained as an “unlawful enemy combatant” and is alleging they fought in Syria as part of ISIS.

Representatives of the  International Committee of the Red Cross have met with the detained individual, but cannot comment on their identity, location, or conditions of their detention. On October 5, 2017 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a habeas petition on this individual’s behalf.

US citizens have due process rights and if they are suspected of terrorism or other unlawful activity, the proper remedy is to charge them in a court of law. If this individual truly was involved with ISIS there are a number of criminal charges that could be brought. This situation is further confounded by the fact that Congress has never authorized US military action in Syria. While the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) has been cited as authority for such military actions, as well as for the detention of combatants, the AUMF explicitly mentions military action against those involved in 9/11 or who harbored them. It is illogical to argue, as both the Obama and Trump administrations have, that the AUMF would apply to military operations against a group that did not even exist when it was passed.

DRAD calls on the military to end the detention without charge of any US citizen. We also call on Congress to repeal such statutes that are argued to authorize such unconstitutional actions, including the AUMF and National Defense Authorization Act of 2009.