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Janko v. Gates

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

January 17, 2014

Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak Al JANKO, Appellant
Robert M. GATES, Former Secretary of Defense, et al., Appellees.

Argued Oct. 22, 2013.

Page 137

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:10-cv-01702).

Paul L. Hoffman argued the cause for the appellant. Terrence P. Collingsworth, Jennifer Green and Judith Brown Chomsky were on brief. Catherine E. Sweetser entered an appearance.

Janis H. Brennan was on brief for amici curiae Scholars of State Law and International Law in support of the appellant.

Sydney Foster, Attorney, United States Department of Justice, argued the cause for the appellees. Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Matthew M. Collette, Attorney, Mary Hampton Mason, Senior Trial Counsel, and Siegmund F. Fuchs, Trial Attorney, were on brief.

Before: HENDERSON, ROGERS and TATEL, Circuit Judges.



As part of its global war on terrorism, the United States detained Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko in Afghanistan and at United States Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (Guantanamo) in Cuba for seven years before the district court granted him a writ of habeas corpus and ordered that diplomatic efforts be undertaken to secure his release. He now seeks to recover for injuries sustained during his detention. Because the Congress has, in unmistakable language, denied the district court jurisdiction to entertain his claims, we affirm the dismissal of his claims.

I. Background

The Appellant is a Syrian citizen who alleges that he travelled to Afghanistan in January 2000. Shortly thereafter, the Taliban forced him to confess to spying for

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the United States and Israel and imprisoned him in Kandahar, where he was tortured by his Taliban captors. After the attacks on our homeland on September 11, 2001, U.S. forces commenced military operations in Afghanistan to subdue al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. Shortly after the operations began, the new Afghan government liberated the Appellant's prison. Allegedly on the basis of misinterpreted intelligence, however, U.S. officials identified the Appellant as an enemy combatant.[1] Pursuant to the President's congressionally conferred authority, see Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub.L. No. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224, 224 (2001), to detain enemy combatants " for the duration of the particular conflict in which they were captured," Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 518, 124 S.Ct. 2633, 159 L.Ed.2d 578 (2004) (plurality opinion); see also Ali v. Obama, 736 F.3d 542, 544 (D.C.Cir.2013), U.S. forces captured the Appellant and transferred him to Guantanamo in May 2002. He alleges that, for the next seven years, U.S. officials subjected him to torture, physical and psychological degradation and other forms of mistreatment. During his detention, two Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs)— executive-branch tribunals convened to determine the status of Guantanamo detainees, see Maqaleh v. Hagel, Nos. 12-5404 et al., 738 F.3d 312, 325-26, 2013 WL 6767861, at *8 (D.C.Cir. Dec. 24, 2013)— determined that the Appellant was lawfully detained as an enemy combatant.[2]

The Appellant sought to obtain release from detention by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in district court. After the Supreme Court decided that Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to challenge the basis of their detentions, Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723, 771, 128 S.Ct. 2229, 171 L.Ed.2d 41 (2008), the district court granted his petition, Al Ginco v. Obama, 626 F.Supp.2d 123, 130 (D.D.C.2009), and the United States released him in October 2009. Nearly one year later, he filed a complaint in district court against the United States and twenty-six U.S. officials (collectively Government) for injuries he suffered during his detention. His complaint, as amended, stated claims under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350; the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671 et seq. ; the Enforcement Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1985; and for violation of his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971). Holding that, inter alia, section 7(a) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006(MCA), Pub.L. No. 109-366, § 7(a), 120 Stat. 2600, 2635 (codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2241(e) (2006)), ousted it of jurisdiction, the district court dismissed the Appellant's claims.

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Janko v. Gates, 831 F.Supp.2d 272, 278-81 (D.D.C.2011). He timely appealed.

II. Analysis

A. Standard of Review

" We review de novo the district court's grant of a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction." Oakey v. U.S. Airways Pilots Disability Income Plan, 723 F.3d 227, 231 (D.C.Cir.2013). Because the Government has not disputed the facts relevant to jurisdiction, we accept the Appellant's allegations as true and review only the district court's ...

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