The National Security Court System: A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror

The National Security Court System: A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror

The National Security Court System: A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror

The National Security Court System: A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror

Synopsis

The recent Boumediene v. Bush decision, which tossed aside the dysfunctional military court system envisioned by the Bush administration and upheld the right of habeas corpus for detainees, promises to throw national security law into chaos, and will also probably lead to the closing of Guantanamo. In this timely and much-needed book, Glenn Sulmasy, one of America's leading experts on national security law, opens with a much-needed history of America's long and complicated experience with such courts since the early days of the Republic. After tracing their evolution in the contemporary era, Sulmasy argues for a more sensible approach to the global war on terror's unique set of prisoners. He proposes a reasonable "third way" solution that avoids even more extreme measures, on the one hand, and a complete shuttering of the court system, on the other. Instead, he advocates creating a separate standing judicial system, overseen by civilian judges, that allows for habeas corpus appeals and which focuses exclusively on existing war-on-terror cases as well as the inevitable cases to come. For all those who want to explore the crucial legal issues behind the headlines about Gitmo and the rights of detainees, The National Security Court System offers a clear-headed assessment of where we are and where we ought to be going.

Excerpt

Throughout the writing of this manuscript, military commissions have remained in the media and the controversy has continued. Despite the questionable legitimacy and lack of credibility associated with the military commissions in the global democratic community by 2008, the Bush administration continued to push the use of military commissions to adjudicate terrorist suspects throughout the writing of this text. No prosecutions had occurred other than the plea bargain of Australian citizen David Hicks through late September of 2008.

As my editors have continually reminded me, this project has truly been a moving target. and this target continues to move: as of November 2008, two cases have now been tried before military commissions, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, his transition team is feverishly working on the details of closing Guantanamo Bay as a detention center, and the Bush administration was reportedly considering closure of the facility (or set the process in motion) before departing in January of 2009.

The two defendants who have been tried are Salim Hamdan, the personal aide of Osama bin Laden, and Ali Hamza al Bahlul, bin Laden’s media chief (or as some would call, his chief propaganda aide). Ironically, the trial of Salim Hamdan became the first real “war trial” in the commissions’ process. (Hamdan is the detainee who became famous for his success before the Supreme Court in 2006 in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld when the Supreme Court declared that military commissions originally ordered in November of 2001 were illegal.) Interestingly, although both cases concluded with little controversy, they both . . .

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