Judges Invoke Lewis Carroll In Detainee Case

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The D.C. Circuit likened the government's reasons for classifying a Chinese Muslim detainee at Guantanamo as an "enemy combatant" to the faulty logic of a Lewis Carroll poem. The government suggested that its allegations against Huzaifa Parhat are reliable because they show up in at least three intelligence documents.

The court compared the government's logic to Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark," in which a character declares, "I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true."

The court said the government cannot justify its detention of Parhat using a similar bald assertion.

"Lewis Carroll notwithstanding, the fact that the government has 'said it thrice' does not make an allegation true," Judge Garland wrote in the unclassified decision released Monday. "This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true."

The court overruled the Combatant Status Review Tribunal's decision that Parhat is an enemy combatant and ordered the government to "release or to transfer Parhat, or to expeditiously hold a new tribunal consistent with the court's opinion." Parhat has been in U.S. custody in Cuba for more than six years.

The decision came on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling that the approximately 270 detainees at Guantanamo have a constitutional right to challenge their detention in federal courts.

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