William K. Lietzau

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William K. Lietzau
Nationality United States
Occupation political appointee

William K. Lietzau is an American lawyer.[1] He was appointed to the position Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Policy in February 2010. By October 2011 he had taken on responsibility for the department's Rule of Law and Humanitarian Policy policy, and held the title Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for rule of law and detainee policy.[2]

Lietzau served as an officer in the United States Marine Corp, and as a Prosecutor.[1] He has helped negotiate arms treaties, and has served in the White House.

Lietzau has a bachelors degree from the United States Naval Academy and a law degree from Yale Law School.

Lietzau was involved in a diplomatic controversy when a writ of habeas corpus in the United Kingdom compelled the UK government to seek the USA to return to them a Pakistani captive they had apprehended in Basra, Iraq, in 2004.[3] They handed Rahmatullah over to American forces, who transferred him the Bagram Theater Internment Facility. British courts concluded his transfer was in violation of international law.

On July 14, 2011, US forces accidentally released a secret form used to classify whether captives were an "Enduring Security Threat" to the ACLU.[4] Lietzau explained that the accidental release posed a security threat to the United States as it

“could have significant deleterious repercussions with respect to our diplomatic relationships with Afghanistan and various other countries... EST criteria and determinations are not currently a topic in our sensitive bilateral discussions with other countries ... revelation of EST criteria would likely complicate those discussions.”

[5] According to the New York Times in an interview in the late Summer of 2012 Lietzau said the USA was “on a trajectory to be able to comply” with an agreement to devolve control of the Bagram Theater Internment Facility to Afghan control by the agreed date of September 9, 2012. The New York Times noted that the Lietzau referred to September 9th as a “milestone”, rejecting thw word “deadline”. It noted Lietzau said the agreement only applied to the captives who were in custody when the agreement was signed, and that the USA was nevertheless going to retain certain selected captives under permanent US control -- including all the non-Afghan captives.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "William K. Lietzau: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Rule of Law and Detainee Policy)". United States Department of Defense. http://www.defense.gov/bios/biographydetail.aspx?biographyid=246. Retrieved 2011-11-03.  mirror
  2. Peter Finn (2011-11-01). "Guantanamo authorities reading attorney-client mail, lawyers say". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/guantanamo-authorities-reading-attorney-client-mail-lawyers-say/2011/11/01/gIQAXoQkdM_story.html. Retrieved 2011-11-03. "In a letter Tuesday, nine of the attorneys wrote to William K. Lietzau, deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and detainee policy, to object to authorities reading their mail to clients at the detention center."  mirror
  3. Benjamin Wittes (2012-02-23). "Discovering Deference: The Rahmatullah Climb-Down". Lawfare. http://www.lawfareblog.com/2012/02/discovering-deference-the-rahmatullah-climb-down/. Retrieved 2012-08-20. "While the court can’t quite handle the name or title or affiliation of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense William Lietzau—whom it called “Paul” Lietzau and described as “the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defence”—it did rule that his “letter clearly maintains that the US authorities are entitled to continue to hold the applicant, that, if he is to be released to anyone, it should be to the Pakistani government, and the US authorities would not release him to anyone without what they regarded as appropriate safeguards.”" 
  4. Peter Finn, Julie Tate (2011-07-14). "Classified document about U.S. detention criteria inadvertently given to ACLU". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington/post/classified-detention-data-inadvertently-given-to-aclu/2011/07/14/gIQAOpkSEI_blog.html?hpid=z2. Retrieved 2012-08-20. "“EST criteria and determinations are not currently a topic in our sensitive bilateral discussions with other countries,” said the official, William K. Lietzau, who added that “revelation of EST criteria would likely complicate those discussions.” He provided no detail but said he could explain why in a private meeting with the judge, if requested." 
  5. Charlie Savage, Graham Bowley (2012-09-05). "U.S. to Retain Role as a Jailer in Afghanistan". New York Times. p. A1. Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2012%2F09%2F06%2Fworld%2Fasia%2Fus-will-hold-part-of-afghan-prison-after-handover.html%3F_r%3D1%26pagewanted%3Dall&date=2012-09-06. "But Mr. Lietzau said that while the war continues, it is lawful and necessary to detain people without trial, both to gain intelligence and to avoid creating any incentive for troops in combat to elect killing over capturing."