Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President, Permissibility of Relocating Certain 'Protected Persons' from Occupied Iraq   [open pdf - 3MB]

This memorandum from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel examines the legality of transferring certain prisoners captured in Iraq to other facilities outside of that country. "Article 49 of the 1949 Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Aug. 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3516, 75 U.N.T.S. 287 ('GC' or 'Convention') prohibits '[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not,... regardless of their motive.' This opinion elaborates on interim guidance provided in October 2003 concerning the permissibility under GC of relocating certain 'protected persons' detained in occupied Iraq to places outside that country. We now conclude that the United States may, consistent with article 49, (1) remove 'protected persons' who are illegal aliens from Iraq pursuant to local immigration law; and (2) relocate 'protected persons' (whether illegal aliens or not) from Iraq to another country to facilitate interrogation, for a brief but not indefinite period, so long as adjudicative proceedings have not been initiated against them."

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