Seeking access to OLC memo on Guantanamo detainees' rights during military trials

This case seeks the disclosure of a legal memo from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that reportedly addresses the constitutional rights that Guantánamo detainees could legally claim during military commission proceedings in the U.S. The memo, drafted in May 2009, also reportedly addresses the admissibility of statements obtained through coercion in those proceedings. The ACLU and NYCLU filed the lawsuit on Aug. 20, 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). David Barron, acting assistant attorney general of the OLC, sent the memo to a Justice Department task force on May 4, 2009. The existence of the memo was made public in a June 29 Wall Street Journal article that asserted that the memo's conclusions "could alter significantly the way the commissions operate." The article also discussed the memo's position that federal courts would find coerced evidence inadmissible under the Constitution in military commission trials. The government did not respond to the ACLU's original FOIA request.

S.D.N.Y., Index No. (direct)

The FOIA complaint is available here.

Attorney(s)

Jameel Jaffer and Jonathan Hafetz of the ACLU, and NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg

Date filed

Court

Federal

Status

Open