Khan v. Obama / Khan v. Gates / United States v. Khan

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

September 29, 2006

Current Status 

Khan v. Obama and Khan v. Gates have been dismissed or withdrawn without a ruling on the legality of Khan’s detention. In February 2012, Khan was charged by military commission with certain offenses under the Military Commissions Act of 2009. Khan pled guilty and is currently scheduled to be sentenced in 2021.

Co-Counsel 

Jenner & Block LLP; Military Commissions Defense Organization (U.S. v. Khan)

Client(s) 

Case Description 

CCR has represented Majid Khan in three cases: Khan v. Obama, a habeas corpus petition filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Khan v. Gates, a petition for review under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; and United States v. Khan, a military commission prosecution at Guantánamo Bay.

CCR’s representation of Khan is part of our efforts to end indefinite detention without charge or trial and close Guantánamo and to ensure accountability for U.S. torture.  We were among the first attorneys to work on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners, and we will continue to do so until the prison is closed.

Majid Khan is unique among Guantánamo prisoners in two important respects. First, a citizen of Pakistan, he has long had political asylum status in the United States and other substantial ties to this country. He grew up outside of Baltimore, Maryland, graduated from Owings Mills High School, and lived and worked in the area. He is married and has a young daughter he has never met. Several of his other family members are U.S. citizens and still live near Baltimore.  Second, in March 2003, Khan was captured and forcibly disappeared by the United States. There is no serious dispute that he was abducted, imprisoned, and tortured by U.S. officials at secret overseas “black sites” operated by the Central Intelligence Agency before he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay in September 2006. Nor is there any serious dispute that Majid Khan’s detention and interrogation violated U.S. and international law.

Majid Khan’s torture is described at length in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, key findings of which were released on December 9, 2014. The report describes some of the methods inflicted on Majid Khan, which were deliberately and systematically applied to cause him severe physical and psychological harm, but which produced no actionable intelligence. The report states that Majid Khan was subjected to torture methods such as sleep deprivation and nudity. The report also states that he was subjected to “rectal feeding,” a form of rape. In May 2015, CCR obtained declassified notes describing some of Khan’s personal recollections of his experience in secret detention, including additional details of his torture such as the fact that he was waterboarded and threatened with harm to himself and his family.  

In February 2012, Khan was charged and pled guilty to various offenses before a military commission at Guantanamo.  He pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement with the Convening Authority for Military Commissions.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 28-29, 2021.  Given his longstanding cooperation, Khan will conclude his military commission sentence in February 2022, after which he will be transferred from Guantánamo Bay.

In its initial representation of Khan, CCR had to fight for more than a year just to meet with our client, as the government objected because of the “unique circumstances” of his case, which CCR argued was an attempt to conceal illegal conduct and acts that would embarrass the United States.  Because Khan was initially denied access to counsel in his habeas case, Khan v. Obama, he filed a petition for review under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, Khan v. Gates.

Case Timeline

July 27, 2021
Commission accepts the second modification to Khan’s plea agreement and grants his motions to withdraw pending motions and to vacate the pretrial punishment ruling
July 27, 2021
Commission accepts the second modification to Khan’s plea agreement and grants his motions to withdraw pending motions and to vacate the pretrial punishment ruling
Khan thus faces a maximum approved sentence with cooperation of no more than 11 years, which will be imposed at his sentencing scheduled for October 28-29, 2021. Given his longstanding cooperation, Khan will conclude his military commission sentence in February 2022, after which he will be transferred from Guantanamo Bay.
June 25, 2021
Khan moves to withdraw his pending motion for production of certain torture-related witnesses, his motion for pretrial punishment credit, and a motion relating to sentencing exhibits
June 25, 2021
Khan moves to withdraw his pending motion for production of certain torture-related witnesses, his motion for pretrial punishment credit, and a motion relating to sentencing exhibits
He also moves to vacate the pretrial punishment ruling in accordance with the terms of the second modification to his plea agreement.
April 16, 2021
Parties negotiate a second modification of Khan’s plea agreement that imposes a maximum approved sentence with cooperation “not to exceed 11 years”
April 16, 2021
Parties negotiate a second modification of Khan’s plea agreement that imposes a maximum approved sentence with cooperation “not to exceed 11 years”
The modification reduces his approved sentence by about half, which is the relief that he had requested from the commission in his pretrial punishment motion. The terms of the modification also required Khan to move to withdraw all pending motions and vacate the commission’s pretrial punishment ruling from June 2020.
December 2020 to March 2021
Commission prosecutors move to reconsider the commission’s rulings granting Khan one year of sentencing credit for the discovery violations and his motion for production of witnesses, and the ruling on his motion for pretrial punishment credit
December 2020 to March 2021
Commission prosecutors move to reconsider the commission’s rulings granting Khan one year of sentencing credit for the discovery violations and his motion for production of witnesses, and the ruling on his motion for pretrial punishment credit
The commission denies the motions to reconsider the pretrial punishment ruling and the ruling providing Khan one year of sentencing credit. The commission defers ruling on the motion to reconsider the witnesses.
June 4, 2020
Commission concludes a military judge “has legal authority to grant administrative credit as a remedy for illegal pretrial punishment,” and defers ruling “on the mixed questions of law and fact underlying the merits” of Mr. Khan’s pretrial punishment motion
June 4, 2020
Commission concludes a military judge “has legal authority to grant administrative credit as a remedy for illegal pretrial punishment,” and defers ruling “on the mixed questions of law and fact underlying the merits” of Mr. Khan’s pretrial punishment motion
The commission rules that Khan was subjected to “shocking mistreatment” in CIA detention that violated the “universal right to be free of torture under U.S. and international law.” The commission schedules an evidentiary hearing to address Khan’s pretrial punishment as well as his sentencing for May 2021, but those proceedings were subsequently continued due in large measure to the Covid-19 pandemic
Mid-2019 to Early-2021
The parties file a series of other collateral motions prior to Khan’s sentencing between 2019-2021.
Mid-2019 to Early-2021
The parties file a series of other collateral motions prior to Khan’s sentencing between 2019-2021.
These include, for example: (a) a prosecution motion requesting entry of a protective order and methodology to permit Khan’s counsel to communicate and establish personal knowledge or interaction with certain witnesses requested by Khan in his motion for production of certain torture-related witnesses; (b) Khan’s motions relating to conflicts of interest requiring disqualification of the prior Convening Authority; (c) a motion by Khan relating to government interference with privileged and confidential attorney-client communications; and (d) other motions relating to the procedures for Khan’s sentencing case. Those filings and the commission’s rulings, as well as other pleadings and argument transcripts, are available at www.mc.mil, including a ruling granting Khan one year of sentencing credit as a remedy for the prosecution’s discovery violations.
May 1, 2019
Khan files third torture-related motion in preparation for his extenuation and mitigation case at sentencing
May 1, 2019
Khan files third torture-related motion in preparation for his extenuation and mitigation case at sentencing
The third motion requests administrative sentencing credit for Khan’s torture and other unlawful pretrial punishment between the time of his capture and his guilty plea. In particular, Khan requests that the commission reduce his approved sentence (capped at no more than 19 years with cooperation) by no less than half as a comprehensive, prophylactic remedy for the war crimes of torture, sexual assault, serious bodily injury, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that he suffered while in CIA detention. The Center for Victims of Torture, the National Institute of Military Justice, and another Guantanamo detainee file amicus briefs in support of Khan’s motion.
February 28, 2019
Khan files second torture-related motion in preparation for his extenuation and mitigation case at sentencing
February 28, 2019
Khan files second torture-related motion in preparation for his extenuation and mitigation case at sentencing
The second motion requests production of witnesses, including certain torture-related witnesses, which the commission eventually grants in a series of rulings.
February 25, 2019
Khan files first torture-related motion in preparation for his extenuation and mitigation case at sentencing
February 25, 2019
Khan files first torture-related motion in preparation for his extenuation and mitigation case at sentencing
The first motion requests exculpatory information, including torture-related documents, pursuant to Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), which the commission eventually denies in a series of rulings.
June 2016
Government releases unclassified version of Khan’s 2007 CSRT transcript
June 2016
Government releases unclassified version of Khan’s 2007 CSRT transcript
In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the government declassifies and makes public select HVD CSRT transcripts.
November 2015 to September 2016
Parties conclude a modification to the plea agreement that extends the period of Khan’s cooperation and accordingly delays his sentencing for an additional three years
November 2015 to September 2016
Parties conclude a modification to the plea agreement that extends the period of Khan’s cooperation and accordingly delays his sentencing for an additional three years
The modification also drops the charge of providing material support for terrorism to which Khan had pled guilty in 2012. That charge is dropped in accordance with the D.C. Circuit’s en banc decision in Al Bahlul v. United States, 767 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2014), which holds that providing material support for terrorism is not an offense triable by military commission based on pre-2006 conduct. The commission accepts the modification in September 2016. Khan’s case proceeds toward sentencing.
June 2, 2015

Declassified information about Khan's torture is made public for the first time by Reuters

June 2, 2015

Declassified information about Khan's torture is made public for the first time by Reuters

May 5, 2015

Government declassifies notes CCR submitted for review

May 5, 2015

Government declassifies notes CCR submitted for review

March 24, 2015

CCR submits notes describing some of Majid Khan’s personal recollections of his experience in secret detention to government for formal classification review in light of new CIA classification guidance

March 24, 2015

CCR submits notes describing some of Majid Khan’s personal recollections of his experience in secret detention to government for formal classification review in light of new CIA classification guidance

January 30, 2015

CIA provides new classification guidance with respect to torture program, pursuant to which some – but not all – personal recollections of former CIA prisoners about their experience in secret detention are no longer deemed classified

January 30, 2015

CIA provides new classification guidance with respect to torture program, pursuant to which some – but not all – personal recollections of former CIA prisoners about their experience in secret detention are no longer deemed classified

December 9, 2014

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence publicly releases executive summary and key findings from report on CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, including details of Majid Khan’s torture

December 9, 2014

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence publicly releases executive summary and key findings from report on CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, including details of Majid Khan’s torture

April 23, 2013
District Court enters minute order dismissing Majid Khan’s habeas case without prejudice
April 23, 2013
District Court enters minute order dismissing Majid Khan’s habeas case without prejudice
April 19, 2013

CCR moves to dismiss Majid Khan's habeas case, without prejudice, pursuant to terms of his military commission plea agreement (Khan v. Obama)

April 19, 2013

CCR moves to dismiss Majid Khan's habeas case, without prejudice, pursuant to terms of his military commission plea agreement (Khan v. Obama)

February 29, 2012
Majid Khan pleads guilty before military commission at Guantánamo Bay, is scheduled to be sentenced in 2016
February 29, 2012
Majid Khan pleads guilty before military commission at Guantánamo Bay, is scheduled to be sentenced in 2016
Khan pleads guilty to various offenses before a military commission at Guantanamo, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Convening Authority for Military Commissions. The agreement provides that Khan will cooperate with U.S. authorities in exchange for an adjudged sentence of 25 to 40 years, and an approved sentence with cooperation amounting to substantial assistance “not to exceed 19 years.” Sentencing is delayed for four years while Khan cooperates pursuant to the terms of the agreement. The agreement also provides that Khan waives most discovery, but is permitted to call witnesses, retain two government-funded experts, and put on a case concerning his prior treatment in extenuation and mitigation at sentencing, including classified information about his torture and abuse. The commission accepts the agreement on February 29, 2012.
February 13, 2012

Majid Khan charged before military commission at Guantánamo Bay with various offenses under MCA (United States v. Majid Khan)

February 13, 2012

Majid Khan charged before military commission at Guantánamo Bay with various offenses under MCA (United States v. Majid Khan)

July 29, 2009
Government files unclassified, unprotected factual return on public docket
July 29, 2009
Government files unclassified, unprotected factual return on public docket
June 8, 2009
District Court denies Majid Khan's motion for expedited judgment
June 8, 2009
District Court denies Majid Khan's motion for expedited judgment
June 1, 2009
Coordinating judge of District Court denies government's request to unilaterally designate unclassified factual returns as "protected," including Majid Khan's factual return
June 1, 2009
Coordinating judge of District Court denies government's request to unilaterally designate unclassified factual returns as "protected," including Majid Khan's factual return
May 11, 2009
District Court stays Majid Khan's habeas case temporarily
May 11, 2009
District Court stays Majid Khan's habeas case temporarily
May 7, 2009
CCR submits notice to District Court seeking to stay Khan's case temporarily while government searches for exculpatory evidence
May 7, 2009
CCR submits notice to District Court seeking to stay Khan's case temporarily while government searches for exculpatory evidence
April 27, 2009
Government files memorandum in opposition to Majid Khan's motion for expedited judgment
April 27, 2009
Government files memorandum in opposition to Majid Khan's motion for expedited judgment
April 22, 2009
District Court issues opinion concerning government's detention authority
April 22, 2009
District Court issues opinion concerning government's detention authority
In the opinion, the court holds in part that the "President has the authority to detain persons who were part of, or substantially supported, the Taliban or Al Qaeda forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, provided that the term 'substantially supported' and 'part of' are interpreted to encompass only individuals who were members of the enemy organization's armed forces, as that term is intended under the laws of war, at the time of their capture."
April 7, 2009
CCR attorneys file motion for expedited judgment
April 7, 2009
CCR attorneys file motion for expedited judgment
March 23, 2009
Government files reply memorandum to Majid Khan's supplemental memorandum regarding detention authority
March 23, 2009
Government files reply memorandum to Majid Khan's supplemental memorandum regarding detention authority
March 20, 2009
Majid Khan and other detainees file a joint memorandum in reply to government's March 13, 2009 memorandum regarding detention authority
March 20, 2009
Majid Khan and other detainees file a joint memorandum in reply to government's March 13, 2009 memorandum regarding detention authority
March 20, 2009
CCR files supplemental memorandum regarding government's detention authority
March 20, 2009
CCR files supplemental memorandum regarding government's detention authority
March 20, 2009
Government serves Majid Khan with unclassified, protected factual return
March 20, 2009
Government serves Majid Khan with unclassified, protected factual return
March 13, 2009
Government files memorandum setting forth purported legal authority to detain prisoners at Guantánamo Bay
March 13, 2009
Government files memorandum setting forth purported legal authority to detain prisoners at Guantánamo Bay
February 27, 2009
Government files classified factual return in Majid Khan's case
February 27, 2009
Government files classified factual return in Majid Khan's case
January 9, 2009

Court enters protective order in Majid Khan's habeas case (Khan v. Obama)

January 9, 2009

Court enters protective order in Majid Khan's habeas case (Khan v. Obama)

Following the U.S. Supreme Court's Boumediene decision, a coordination judge enters a protective order that provides Majid Khan with access to his CCR attorneys in connection with his habeas case.

August 7, 2008
Government discloses heavily redacted copies of declarations filed by CCR attorneys
August 7, 2008
Government discloses heavily redacted copies of declarations filed by CCR attorneys
June 3, 2008
D.C. Circuit issues order denying government's motion to hold Majid Khan's motion to unseal in abeyance
June 3, 2008
D.C. Circuit issues order denying government's motion to hold Majid Khan's motion to unseal in abeyance
The court also refers his motion to unseal to the merits panel to which the case was assigned and refers the New York Times Company, Associated Press, and USA Today's motion to unseal to the merits panel to which the case was assigned and dismisses as moot Majid Khan's motion to exceed the page limit. The court also orders that its interim preservation order remain in effect.
May 20, 2008
CCR files reply memorandum in further support of motion to exceed page limit and opposes government's motion to hold motion to seal in abeyance
May 20, 2008
CCR files reply memorandum in further support of motion to exceed page limit and opposes government's motion to hold motion to seal in abeyance
May 16, 2008
Government files opposition to Majid Khan’s motion to exceed page limit and, further, moves to hold his motion to unseal in abeyance
May 16, 2008
Government files opposition to Majid Khan’s motion to exceed page limit and, further, moves to hold his motion to unseal in abeyance
May 9, 2008
CCR files motion to unseal documents pertaining to Khan's case
May 9, 2008
CCR files motion to unseal documents pertaining to Khan's case

CCR also files a motion to exceed the page limit for Khan's brief.

April 24, 2008
D.C. Circuit issues order dismissing Majid Khan's DTA petition
April 24, 2008
D.C. Circuit issues order dismissing Majid Khan's DTA petition

The D.C. Circuit dismisses the DTA petition for lack of jurisdiction based on the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmance in Boumediene v. Bush of the right of Guantánamo detainees to challenge their detention through habeas corpus. The D.C. Circuit transfers all pending motions filed by Majid Khan to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for consideration in his pending habeas case, Khan v. Obama. The court also holds that the New York Times Company, the Associated Press, and USA Today's motion to unseal Majid Khan's court documents is moot.

April 7, 2008
Media organizations file reply brief in support of their motion to unseal
April 7, 2008
Media organizations file reply brief in support of their motion to unseal
March 28, 2008
Government files opposition to media organizations' motion to unseal
March 28, 2008
Government files opposition to media organizations' motion to unseal
March 6, 2008
Major media outlets move to unseal documents pertaining to Majid Khan's case
March 6, 2008
Major media outlets move to unseal documents pertaining to Majid Khan's case
The New York Times Company, the Associated Press, and USA Today argue that the government's actions to block public access to Majid Khan's court filings violate the First Amendment.
January 7, 2008
CCR files reply brief in support of torture motions
January 7, 2008
CCR files reply brief in support of torture motions
Filed with Khan's motion are his own statements.
December 11, 2007
D.C. Circuit enters interim order requiring government to preserve evidence of Majid Khan's torture
December 11, 2007
D.C. Circuit enters interim order requiring government to preserve evidence of Majid Khan's torture
December 6, 2007
CCR moves to declare interrogation methods used against Khan constitute torture
December 6, 2007
CCR moves to declare interrogation methods used against Khan constitute torture
November 30, 2007
CCR moves for an order requiring the government to preserve evidence of Majid Khan's torture
November 30, 2007
CCR moves for an order requiring the government to preserve evidence of Majid Khan's torture
October 16, 2007
Majid Khan meets with his CCR attorneys for the first time at Guantánamo Bay
October 16, 2007
Majid Khan meets with his CCR attorneys for the first time at Guantánamo Bay
October 12, 2007
CCR attorneys sign emergency stipulation to entry of interim protective order
October 12, 2007
CCR attorneys sign emergency stipulation to entry of interim protective order
The protective order enables Majid Khan's attorneys to visit him at Guantánamo Bay in connection with his DTA case.
August 14, 2007

CCR files petition in appeals court challenging Khan's CSRT (Khan v. Gates)

August 14, 2007

CCR files petition in appeals court challenging Khan's CSRT (Khan v. Gates)

CCR files a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking review of Khan's CSRT under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) because he continues to be denied access to his attorneys at CCR in connection with his habeas case, pending the U.S. Supreme Court's final resolution of the question whether the MCA validly stripped federal courts of power to consider habeas corpus cases filed by Guantánamo detainees. Although the DTA does not provide an adequate substitute for habeas corpus, CCR files a petition on Khan's behalf for review in the D.C. Circuit in order for him to be able to obtain immediate access to his attorneys at CCR.
May 15, 2007
Government releases Majid Khan's Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) transcript
May 15, 2007
Government releases Majid Khan's Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) transcript
The CSRT hearing occurred on April 15, 2007. Several portions of the transcript are redacted.
November 3, 2006
CCR files reply to government's efforts to deny Khan counsel access
November 3, 2006
CCR files reply to government's efforts to deny Khan counsel access
CCR's brief argues that the Bush administration's effort to deny Majid Khan access to counsel "ignores the Court's historical function under Article III of the Constitution to exercise its independent judgment." It also argues that the court has adequate tools to keep sensitive classified information from being disclosed and that, in this case, the government is abusing its classification authority to conceal illegal conduct or acts that will embarrass the United States.
October 26, 2006
Government files objection to Majid Khan meeting with CCR attorneys
October 26, 2006
Government files objection to Majid Khan meeting with CCR attorneys
The government objects on the grounds of the "unique circumstances" of his case and argues that Majid Khan may have come into possession of highly classified information while in secret CIA detention and could not, under the current rules for counsel meetings, have any communications with his lawyers.
October 8, 2006
CCR files expedited motion for emergency access to counsel
October 8, 2006
CCR files expedited motion for emergency access to counsel
September 29, 2006

CCR files habeas corpus petition on behalf of Majid Khan (Khan v. Obama)

September 29, 2006

CCR files habeas corpus petition on behalf of Majid Khan (Khan v. Obama)

The petition is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia days before passage of the Military Commission Act of 2006 (MCA), which attempted to strip federal courts of power to consider habeas corpus cases filed by Guantánamo detainees.