uighur detainees ordered released into US; forthcoming scholarship

1. Judge Urbina gives government until Friday to release Uighur detainees at GTMO into the US

Judge Urbina today ordered the government to release into the U.S. a group of Uighur detainees held at GTMO.  The government no longer categorizes the men as enemy combatants, but will not repatriate the men to China out of concern for how they would be treated there and has not yet been able to persuade a third country to accept them.

I do not have a transcript of today’s ruling, but we get a sense of it from the Washington Post’s coverage:

At a hearing packed with Uighurs who live in the Washington area, Urbina rejected government arguments that he had no authority to order the men’s release. He said he had such authority because the men were being held indefinitely and it was the only remedy available. He cited a June decision by an appellate court that found evidence against the Uighurs to be unreliable.

Urbina said in court that he ordered the release “because the Constitution prohibits indefinite detention without cause.” He added, “The separation of powers do not trump” the prohibition against holding people indefinitely without trial.

2. Forthcoming Scholarship

* Fundamentals of Counterterrorism, by Amos N. Guiora (Utah)

Fundamentals of Counterterrorism addresses the multiple issues surrounding counterterrorism from a legal and policy perspective and an international and comparative focus. This concise paperback is the perfect complement to courses that address international law, international criminal law, or national security.


  1. Defining Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  2. What Motivates the Terrorist?
  3. Geopolitics and Counterterrorism
  4. The Limits of Power
  5. Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances
  6. Rules of Engagement
  7. Interrogation of Terrorism Suspects
  8. State-Sponsored Terrorism
  9. Terrorism and the Media

10.  Framing Homeland Security

11.  Going Forward

* “A Cautionary Tale from the Crusades? War and Prisoners in Conditions of Normative Incommensurability”

PRISONERS IN WAR, Sibylle Scheipers, ed., Oxford University Press, 2008

FREDERIC MEGRET, McGill University – Faculty of Law
Email: frederic.megret@mcgill.ca

The conventional wisdom is that treatment of prisoners during the Crusades, in an age long before the development of the modern laws of war, can only have been horrendous. Historical evidence seems to partly vindicate this account, but is also testimony to how well prisoners were treated on some occasions. This chapter explores the impact that norms about the nature of war and how it should be waged had on the issue. It suggests that despite the religious intensity of the Crusades and the fact that they unfolded along civilizational divides, there were several strands within the Christian and probably even more the Moslem tradition which guaranteed a degree of moderation in warfare, particularly protection for prisoners. The conclusion is that an overarching law of war is not necessarily a pre-condition to restraint in warfare, as long as a number of other circumstances exist such as a strong deontological imperative of self-restraint.

* “Legislating Clear-Statement Regimes in National-Security Law”

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 08-56

JONATHAN F. MITCHELL, University of Chicago Law Paper Requests – Public Law and Legal Theory, George Mason University – School of Law
Email: jmitchell@law.uchicago.edu
GMU LAW SCHOOL SUBMITTER, George Mason University – Library
Email: phaas@gmu.edu

Congress’s national-security legislation will often require clear and specific congressional authorization before the executive can undertake certain actions. The War Powers Resolution, for example, prohibits any law from authorizing military hostilities unless it “specifically authorizes” them. And the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 required laws to amend FISA or repeal its “exclusive means” provision before they could authorize warrantless electronic surveillance. But efforts to legislate clear-statement regimes in national-security law have failed to induce compliance. The Clinton Administration inferred congressional “authorization” for the 1999 Kosovo War from an appropriations statute that failed to specifically authorize the conflict. And the Bush Administration inferred congressional “authorization” for the NSA surveillance program from ambiguous language in the post-September 11th Authorization to Use Military Force. In both situations, executive-branch lawyers employed expansive theories of implied repeal and constitutional avoidance to evade the codified clear-statement requirements, and Congress and the courts acquiesced to the President’s actions. Recent proposals to strengthen the clear-statement requirements in Congress’s national-security framework legislation are unlikely to be effective without institutional mechanisms, such as points of order, that can deter future legislators from enacting vague or ambiguous legislation from which the executive might claim implicit congressional “authorization,” and that can induce Congress to confront Presidents that act without specific congressional authorization. Simply enacting more narrow or explicit clear-statement requirements, or adding funding restrictions to Congress’s framework legislation, fails to counter the aggressive interpretive doctrines that executives of both political parties have used to concoct congressional “authorization” from vague or ambiguous statutory language.

“The Defense of Necessity and Powers of the Government”

Criminal Law and Philosophy, Vol. 3, 2008
Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1234342

YOUNGJAE LEE, Fordham University School of Law
Email: ylee@law.fordham.edu

If one of the lessons of the ubiquitous and highly problematic “ticking bomb” scenario is that torture may be justified under certain narrowly specified situations, why would we not want it made available as a weapon in the government’s anti-terrorist activities? This is not a new question. It has been hotly debated, and a number of arguments have been made against the idea of formulating the torture policy on the basis of the ticking-bomb hypothetical. The question that this Essay addresses is related but narrower: if one starts from the proposition that the ticking bomb scenario demonstrates that a government official facing prosecution for torture may have available the necessity defense, what implications, if any, should the government be able to draw from the existence of the defense as it formulates its torture policy? This Essay discusses – and rejects – one common answer to this question – that the nature of the necessity defense is such that it can generate no forward-looking prescriptions. This Essay then advances a new argument on the basis of the nature and function of the necessity defense as not only spelling out morally permissible instances of harm infliction but also effecting a division of power between the state and citizens.

* “Who Got Game? Boumediene v. Bush and the Judicial Gamesmanship of Enemy-Combatant Detention”

New England Law Review, Forthcoming
Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 26-2008

DANIEL R. WILLIAMS, Northeastern University – School of Law
Email: d.williams@neu.edu

Our war-on-terror jurisprudence heavily leans towards process issues and largely eschews making any robust commitments to substantive human rights. This article argues that Boumediene substantiates that observation. This was not a case about individual rights – a fact Justice Roberts underscores in his dissent. The contention that Guantanamo detainees have no enforceable rights under the Constitution frames the issue in terms that might have political appeal within a nation too easily manipulated by fear-mongering. Although the majority never admits it, it is quite apparent that Kennedy wants to frame the case away from being a struggle over human rights because, framed within the language of human rights, the case becomes a game the majority cannot win. The result of all this litigation has not forestalled the continued executive detention at Guantanamo, with no evidence that the human-rights concerns that have always plagued that detention site has abated, including the use of torture. It has not improved the adjudicatory process there to the point where a fair-minded and knowledgeable person could be satisfied that it comports with the Kantian tradition that underpins our system of trial and punishment. What this cautious, process-oriented litigation strategy has done is produce often overblown rhetorical gestures about how the three branches should interact in this war on terror, without any regard for the disturbing controversy over what this war on terror is really about and without any recognition that this “war” is doomed to paralysis unless and until there is reason to believe that the government will not, in some fashion, replicate the abuses of the twentieth century.

* “EU Law, International Law and Economic Sanctions Against Terrorism: The Judiciary in Distress?”

Fordham International Law Journal, Forthcoming

P. TAKIS TRIDIMAS, Pennsylvania State University – Dickinson School of Law, University of London – International Financial Law Unit
Email: put3@dsl.psu.edu
JOSE A. GUTIERREZ-FONS, University of London – Queen Mary
Email: j.a.gutierrez-fons@qmul.ac.uk

This article seeks to examine the relationship between European Union law, international law, and the protection of fundamental rights in the light of recent case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the Court of First Instance (CFI) relating to economic sanctions against individuals. On 3 September 2008, the ECJ delivered its long-awaited judgment in Kadi and Al Barakaat on appeal from the CFI. In its judgment under appeal, the CFI had held that the European Community (EC) is competent to adopt regulations imposing economic sanctions against private organisations in pursuance of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions seeking to combat terrorism; that although the EC is not bound directly by the UN Charter, it is bound pursuant to the EC Treaty to respect international law and give effect to UNSC; and that the CFI has jurisdiction to examine the compatibility of EC regulations implementing UNSC resolutions with fundamental rights not as protected by the EC but as protected by jus cogens. On appeal, following the Opinion of Maduro AG, the ECJ rejected the CFI’s approach. It held that UNSC resolutions are binding only in international law. It subjected the contested regulations to full review under EC human rights standards and found them in breach of the right to a hearing, the right to judicial protection and the right to property. Kadi and Al Barakaat is the most important judgment ever delivered by the ECJ on the relationship between EC and international law and one of its most important judgments on fundamental rights. It is imbued by constitutional confidence, commitment to the rule of law but also some scepticism towards international law. In the meantime, the CFI has delivered a number of other judgments on anti-terrorist sanctions assessing the limits of the “emergency constitution” at European level. The purpose of this paper is to examine the above case law and explore the dilemmas and tensions facing the EU judiciary in seeking to define and protect the EU’s distinct constitutional space. It is divided as follows. It first looks at the judgment in Kadi. After a short presentation of the factual and legal background, it explores the question whether the EU has competence to adopt smart sanctions. It then examines whether the EU is bound by resolutions of the Security Council, whether the ECJ has jurisdiction to review Community measures implementing such resolutions and the applicable standard of judicial scrutiny. It analyses the contrasting views of the CFI, the Advocate General, and the ECJ taking account also of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Further, it explores the consequences of annulling the contested regulation. It then turns to discussing CFI case law in relation to sanctions lists drawn up not by the UN Security Council but by the EC. The paper concludes by welcoming the judgment of the ECJ. Whilst its reasoning on the issue of Community competence is questionable, once such competence is established, it is difficult to support the abrogation of Community standards for the protection of fundamental rights. Such standards should ensure procedural due process whilst recognising the importance of public security.

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