Executive Order re Thomson Correction Center; Hatim v. Bush

December 15, 2009

1. Executive Order Directing the Attorney General to Acquire the Thomson Correction Center

Available here.  And for an interesting assessment of whether relocation of a detainee from GTMO to the TCC would require refilling that person’s habeas petition in the Northern District of Illinois, see the take provided here by Steve Vladeck (his answer: probably not).  And if you are dying for more commentary on the pros-cons of the TCC development, check out the debate underway at NYT’s Room for Debate blog, here.

2. Hatim v. Bush (D.D.C. Dec. 16, 2009) (granting habeas to GTMO petitioner)

Meanwhile, habeas review of individual GTMO detainee cases continues.  After a win for the government that I reported yesterday, today brings a defeat.  Judge Urbina has granted habeas relief to Hatim (Case No. 05-cv-1429), according to a notice placed on the docket today.  The opinion explaining the ruling at this point is classified; I’ll circulate the unclassified version if and when it becomes available.


Al Mutairi v. United States; forthcoming scholarship

August 5, 2009

1. Khalid Abdullah Mishal Al Mutairi v. United States (D.D.C. July 29, 2009) (opinion explaining decision to grant habeas to GTMO detainee)

Back on July 29th, Judge Kollar-Kotelly granted Al Mutairi’s habeas petition.  The underlying opinion was not released at the time, but now is available.  It is posted here.  Key points include:

On the admissibility of hearsay: “The Court finds that allowing the use of hearsay by both parties balances the need to prevent the substantial diversion of military and intelligence resources during a time of hostilities, while at the same providing Al Mutairi with a meaningful opportunity to contest the basis of his detention. The Court is fully capable of considering whether a piece of evidence (whether hearsay or not) is reliable, and it shall make such determinations in the context of the evidence and arguments presented during the Merits Hearing -including any arguments the parties have made concerning the unreliability of hearsay evidence.” (slip op. at 4)

On the government’s request for a presumption that its evidence is both accurate and authentic: “the Government argues that a presumption as to its evidence is both appropriate and necessary. The Court disagrees. One of the central functions of the Court in this case is “to evaluate the raw evidence” proffered by the Government and to determine whether it is “sufficiently reliable and sufficiently probative to demonstrate the truth of the asserted proposition with the requisite degree of clarity.” Parhat, 532 F.3d at 847. Simply assuming the Government’s evidence is accurate and authentic does not aid that inquiry. Cf Ahmed v. Obama, 613 F. Supp. 2d 51, 55 (D.D.C. 2009) (rejecting a presumption of accuracy for the Government’s evidence and holding that ”the accuracy of much of the factual material contained in [the Government’s] exhibits is hotly contested for a host of different reasons …”).” (slip op. at 5)

On the substantive scope of the government’s detention authority: The Court agrees that the President has the authority to detain individuals who are “part of’ the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated enemy forces, but rejects the Government’s definition insofar as it asserts the authority to detain individuals who only “substantially supported” enemy forces or who have “directly supported hostilities “in aid of enemy forces. While evidence of such support is undoubtedly probative of whether an individual is part of an enemy force, it may not by itself provide the grounds for detention. Accord Mattan, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43286 at *13-*15. Accordingly, the Court shall consider whether AI Mutairi is lawfully detained in the context of the following standard:

The President has the authority to detain persons that the President determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for those attacks. The President also has the authority to detain persons who were part of the Taliban or al-Qaida forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act in aid of such enemy armed forces.” (slip op. at 8)

On the credibility of Al Mutairi’s version of events (i.e., that he traveled from Kuwait to Afghanistan after 9/11 to build a mosque): “Based on these identified inconsistences, implausibilities, and in some respects, impossibilities, the Court does not credit Al Mutairi’s version of events that occurred while he was in Afghanistan.”  (slip op. at 15-16)

On the significance of the Court’s decision to reject Al Mutairi’s account: “Notwithstanding the Court’s conclusions with respect to Al Mutairi’s version of events, the Court’s inquiry is far from complete. Because Al Mutairi has no burden to prove his innocence, the Court must now assess the Government’s evidence to determine whether it has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that during the time for which Al Mutairi cannot account, he trained with or became a part of al Wafa (according to the Government, an associated force of al Qaida), or al Qaida itself.” (slip op. at 16)

On the credibility of the government’s evidence: This portion of the opinion is redacted in significant part, but is still worth reading if you want a sense of how Judge Kollar-Kotelly parsed the evidence.  She summarized her assessment as follows: “In summary, the Court has credited the Government’s evidence that (1) Al Mutairi’s path of travel into Afghanistan was consistent with the route used by al Wafa to smuggle individuals into Afghanistan to engage in jihad; (2) that Al Mutairi’s travel from Kabul to a village near Khowst was consistent (in time and place) with the route of Taliban and al Qaida fighters fleeing toward the Tora Bora mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and (3) Al Mutairi’s non-possession of his passport is consistent with an individual who has undergone al Qaida’s standard operating procedures that require trainees to surrender their passports prior to beginning their training. The Court has also found minimally probative on this record the appearance of Al Mutairi’s name and reference to his passport. Taking this evidence as a whole, the Government has at best shown that some of Al Mutairi’s conduct is consistent with persons who may have become a part of al Wafa or al Qaida, but there is nothing in the record beyond speculation that Al Mutairi did, in fact, train or otherwise become a part of one or more of those organizations, where he would have done so, and with which organization. While Al Mutairi’s described peregrinations within Afghanistan lack credibility, the Government has not filled in these blanks nor supplanted Al Mutairi’s version of his travels and activities with sufficiently credible and reliable evidence to meet its burden by a preponderance of the evidence. Accordingly, the Court shall grant Al Mutairi’s petition for habeas corpus.”

2. Forthcoming scholarship

The National Strategy Forum Review, “Strategic Challenges Near and Far” (August 2009)

NSFR is a terrific publication, one that should be more widely read.   The most recent issue is posted as a pdf here, and its contents are as follows:

August 2009 Publisher’s Note


The United States and Mexico: Mutual Problems, Joint Solutions The following five essays discuss many of the challenges that the United States and Mexico face in coordinating effective border policies.  The goal is to elucidate the many areas where more cooperation and tighter joint strategies are needed by both countries to achieve their national goals.

Reasons of State that Sustain Mexico’s Strategy Against Organized Crime
Eduardo Medina-Mora

The Mexico-United States Border: A Fragmented Agenda
Luis Herrera-Lasso M.

The Mérida Initiative: A New Security Cooperation Partnership
David T. Johnson

Mexico’s Strategy
Iñigo Guevara Moyano

Mexico’s Polity and Economy: Security vs. Progress and Our Failed Integration
José Luis Valdés-Ugalde

Special Report:
American Foreign Policy Toward Pakistan
Frank Schell, Richard E. Friedman, and Lauren Bean

Regions at a Glance:
War in Afghanistan: Achieving a Successful Civilian Surge
Catherine Dale

NSF Insider Views:
Trying Terrorists
Richard E. Friedman

The Iranian and North Korean Nuclear Programs and International Law
John Allen Williams

Speaker Summary:
Ilan Berman and Winning the Long War
Eric S. Morse

“Jurors Believe Interrogation Tactics are Not Likely to Elicit False Confessions: Will Expert Witness Testimony Inform Them Otherwise?”

Psychology, Crime & Law, 2009

IRIS BLANDON-GITLIN, affiliation not provided to SSRN
KATHRYN SPERRY, affiliation not provided to SSRN
RICHARD A. LEO, University of San Francisco – School of Law
Email: rleo@usfca.edu

Situational factors – in the form of interrogation tactics – have been reported to unduly influence innocent suspects to confess. This study assessed jurors’ perceptions of these factors and tested whether expert witness testimony on confessions informs jury decision-making. In Study 1, jurors rated interrogation tactics on their level of coerciveness and likelihood that each would elicit true and false confessions. Most jurors perceived interrogation tactics to be coercive and likely to elicit confessions from guilty, but not from innocent suspects. This result motivated Study 2 in which an actual case involving a disputed confession was used to assess the influence of expert testimony on jurors’ perceptions and evaluations of interrogations and confession evidence. The results revealed an important influence of expert testimony on mock-jurors decisions.

“Human Rights and Military Decisions: Counterinsurgency and Trends in the Law of International Armed Conflict”
University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Vol. 30, p. 1367, 2008-09
UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-13

DAN E. STIGALL, U.S. Army JAG Corps
Email: dan.stigall@us.army.mil
CHRISTOPHER L. BLAKESLEY, William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV
Email: chris.blakesley@unlv.edu
CHRIS JENKS, Government of the United States of America – Judge Advocate General’s Corps
Email: mcjenks03@yahoo.com

The past several decades have seen a Copernican shift in the paradigm of armed conflict, which the traditional Law of International Armed Conflict (LOIAC) canon has not fully matched. Standing out in stark relief against the backdrop of relative inactivity in LOIAC, is the surfeit of activity in the field of international human rights law, which has become a dramatic new force in the ancient realm of international law. Human rights law, heretofore not formally part of the traditional juridico-military calculus, has gained ever increasing salience in that calculus. Indeed, human rights law has ramified in such a manner that – given the nature of contemporary conflict, it is no longer possible to address one body of law without also dealing with the other. This has been the most dramatic trend for LOIAC in the last decade. It will doubtlessly continue.

This article briefly addresses this interesting and important phenomenon in the context of the history of LOIAC and modern warfare, which has changed from large-scale clashes of the military might of sovereign states to conflict characterized by long-term guerilla and asymmetric warfare, concomitant counterinsurgency, and stability operations. The nature of contemporary stability operations and counterinsurgency has broadened the scope of military operations so that commanders must now engage in a range of activities not traditionally considered combat-related. Associated with this expanded range of military responsibility is an expanded range of legal responsibility. Hence, we arrive at the necessity and value of human rights law. We briefly identify the general implications of the legal trend and illuminate some notable aspects of the legal landscape that loom before military commanders and their advisors.

The issue of where, when, and how human rights protections apply is essential to understanding their functionality. The treatment of detainees is a prime example of the expanded range of legal responsibility that implicates human rights law. Thus, our discussion of jurisdiction includes analysis of variations among some countries and various regional and international organizations, which differ in their positions on the proper extraterritorial application or jurisdictional scope of their own and international human rights norms. This includes analysis of recent interesting decisions from the British House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights. Finally, we discuss the Copenhagen Process, which began with the first Copenhagen Conference held in October 2007. The Copenhagen Process is an effort to establish a common platform for the handling of detainees which illustrates how intertwined strands of international human rights law and LOIAC have become. It may also represent a way, if not to cut the Gordian knot, then to move past it with a better recognition of how both legal strands will influence future military operations.

Killing Civilians

Adil Ahmad Haque

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – School of Law-Newark

There is a gap between the international humanitarian law of Geneva and the international criminal law of Rome, a gap between the law we have and the law we need if we are to “ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population” caught in the midst of armed conflict. The Rome Statute fails to faithfully translate the prescriptive, action-guiding rules of humanitarian law into a correspondingly robust set of evaluative, judgment-guiding rules suitable for criminal adjudication. The result is a document that is not only substantively incomplete but morally incoherent as well. The purpose of this article is to expose these defects and propose a way to overcome them. Drawing on contemporary criminal law theory, it offers a new approach to war crimes against civilians, one that better protects and respects the value of civilian life.

The Rome Statute is substantively incomplete in the sense that it fails to enforce core principles of humanitarian law designed to protect civilians. As a result, it is possible for a combatant to kill civilians with a culpable mental state, without justification or excuse, and in violation of humanitarian law, yet escape criminal liability under the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute is morally incoherent in the sense that the legal definitions of the relevant war crimes ignore or misapply fundamental criminal law categories—conduct offenses and result offenses, material and mental elements, offenses and defenses—and inadvertently sever the relevant prohibitions from the humanitarian values that should provide their moral foundation. This article proposes a redefined offense of Willful Killing that fully incorporates the principles of distinction and discrimination as well as a new affirmative defense that fully incorporates the principles of necessity and proportionality. Only by adopting such an approach can international criminal law provide civilians their full measure of legal protection and moral recognition.

“Managerial Judging, Court’s Limited Information and Parties’ Resistance: An Empirical Assessment of Why the Reforms to Expedite the Procedure of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Did Not Work”

UCLA School of Law, Law & Economics Research Paper No. 09-12

MAXIMO LANGER, University of California, Los Angeles – School of Law
Email: langer@law.ucla.edu
JOSEPH W. DOHERTY, University of California, Los Angeles – School of Law
Email: doherty@law.ucla.edu

This article analyzes whether managerial judging reforms that were introduced to expedite procedure at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) achieved their goal. Using survival analysis – Weibull regression – the paper tests the hypothesis that the higher the number of reforms a case was subjected to, the shorter the pretrial and trial phase of that case should be. Our six models for pretrial and trial reveal that in all pretrial and trial models the number of reforms is significantly correlated with longer pretrial and trial. The article explains that reforms made process longer rather than shorter because ICTY judges did not use their managerial powers or used them deficiently, and prosecution and defense managed to neutralize the implementation of the reforms. To explain judges’ behavior, the paper articulates an unnoticed challenge for managerial judging – the court is likely to have limited information about the case that may lead judges to restrict use of their managerial powers to avoid making inefficient decisions. In addition, ICTY did not have an implementation plan to encourage judges to change their behavior. The paper also explains the incentives that prosecution and defense had to neutralize the reforms.

“Child Soldiers: Agency, Enlistment, and the Collectivization of Innocence”

Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No. 2009-7

MARK A. DRUMBL, Washington and Lee University School of Law
Email: DRUMBLM@WLU.EDU

This Paper reviews how international criminal law proscribes the conscription, enlistment, or use of children in armed conflict. This legal regime then is contrasted with the social reality of child soldiering, in particular as revealed by ethnographic research from Sierra Leone, the DRC, and northern Uganda regarding how children end up in armed conflict and what they do during conflict. Field research suggests that children exercise greater agency in enlisting in armies, fighting forces, and militias than international criminal law assumes; what is more, field research also suggests that, despite the existence of staggeringly coercive pressures, some children may exercise greater authorship over the violence they commit than international lawyers and human rights workers assume. An individual can be both a victimizer and a victim at the same time – a reality with which international criminal law remains queasy.

Assessing the agency of child soldiers is a difficult task that requires great sensitivity, care, and nuance. It is considerably easier to prejudge ex ante that they have no responsibility than to examine ex post why, exactly, they join militias and then why, exactly, some among them commit terrible crimes. International criminal law, however, ought to be the subject of objective study and dispassionate inquiry. The soothing path that assuages collective sensibilities is not necessarily the best path to protect children from endemic violence, to safeguard and heal post conflict societies, or to promote the best interests of those children who commit international crimes. International criminal lawyers should encourage, instead of gloss over, the hard work and discomforting questions that should be addressed in order to reintegrate children who perpetrate grievous atrocity in a salutary, viable manner that dissuades their recidivism, ostracism, and marginalization. Atrocity trials for children are not a solution; neither, however, is an absence of any accountability mechanism.


Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (cert petition in 2339B case); forthcoming scholarship

June 30, 2009

1. Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, No. 08-1498 (S. Ct.) (petition for certiorari)

I was remiss not to circulate this much earlier.  On June 4, the Justice Department petitioned for cert in the never-ending 9th Circuit civil litigation challenging the constitutionality of the 1996 material support law, 18 USC 2339B.  The petition is posted here: http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/us-petition-humanitarian-6-4-09.pdf.  HLP’s opposition brief is due next Monday, July 6th.  This one most certainly bears watching.

2. Forthcoming scholarship

Targeted Killing in U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy and Law

Kenneth Anderson, Professor of Law, Washington College of Law, American University

The Brookings Institution, Georgetown University Law Center and the Hoover Institution

Forthcoming in Legislating the War on Terror An Agenda for Reform (Benjamin Wittes, ed.)

It is a slight exaggeration to say that Barack Obama is the first president in American history to have run in part on a political platform of targeted killings—but not much of one. During the campaign, he openly sought to one-up the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, in his enthusiasm for the use of targeted strikes in Pakistan against al Qaeda figures. “You know,” he said in his speech at the Democratic National Convention, “John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow [Osama] Bin Laden to the Gates of Hell, but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.”[i] That he would, as president, follow bin Laden to his cave, with or without the cooperation of the Pakistani government, he made perfectly clear. “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President [Pervez] Musharraf won’t act, we will,” he said in another speech.[ii] Indeed, while he criticized President Bush for being too aggressive in many aspects of counterterrorism, with respect to targeted killings, his criticism was the polar opposite: “The Bush administration has not acted aggressively enough to go after al Qaeda’s leadership,” he said. “I would be clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not take out al Qaeda leadership when we have actionable intelligence about their whereabouts, we will act to protect the American people. There can be no safe haven for al Qaeda terrorists who killed thousands of Americans and threaten our homeland today.”[iii]

Obama did not take long, on assuming office, to begin keeping his promise. On January 23, 2009 a mere three days into his presidency, strikes by Predator drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan destroyed two compounds and killed numerous people, reportedly including a high-value target.[iv] Strikes continued, even expanded, over the successive months, and administration officials made clear that they had no plans to curtail them—even as they reined in coercive interrogations and announced the closure of Guantánamo Bay.[v]

Obama was right as a candidate and is correct as president to insist on the propriety of targeted killings—that is, the targeting of a specific individual to be killed, increasingly often by means of high technology, remote-controlled Predator drone aircraft wielding missiles from a stand-off position. The strategic logic that presses toward targeted stand-off killing as a necessary, available and technologically advancing part of counterterrorism is overpowering. So too is the moral and humanitarian logic behind its use. Just as crucial programs of Predator-centered targeted killing are underway now in Afghanistan and, with increasing international controversy, Pakistan, over the long term these programs of stand-off targeted killing will be an essential element in United States counterterrorism into the future—and with targets having little or nothing to do with today’s iteration of the war on terror.[vi] Future administrations, even if they naturally prefer to couch the matter in softer terms, will likely follow the same path. Even if the whole notion seems to some disturbingly close to arbitrary killing, not open combat, it is often the most expedient—and, despite civilian casualties that do occur, most discriminatingly humanitarian—manner to neutralize a terrorist without unduly jeopardizing either civilians or American forces.

But there’s a paradox in Obama’s embrace of targeted killing: Even as the strategic and humanitarian logic for it increases in persuasiveness, the legal space for it and the legal rationales on which it has been traditionally justified are in danger of shrinking. They are at risk of shrinking in ways that might surprise members of Congress and the Obama Administration. And they are at risk of shrinking through seemingly innocuous, unrelated legal policy actions that the Obama Administration and Congress might be inclined to take in support of various political constituencies, usually related to broadly admirable goals of human rights and international law.

American domestic law—the law codifying the existence of the CIA and defining its functions—has long accepted implicitly at least some uses of force, including targeted killing, as self-defense toward ends of vital national security that do not necessarily fall within the strict terms of armed conflict in the sense meant by the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties on the conduct of armed conflict. Categories of the use of force short of armed conflict or war in a juridical sense—by intelligence services such as the CIA, for example—or by military agents in furtherance of national self defense and vital security interests, yet outside of the legal condition of armed conflict, date back in codified law to the founding of the CIA and, in state practice by the United States and other sovereigns, far further still. Yet as a matter of legal justification, successive administrations have already begun to cede this ground. Even the Bush Administration, with its unrivaled enthusiasm for executive power, always sought to cast its killing targets as the killing of combatants in what it legally characterized as armed conflicts, governed by the laws of war on the conduct of hostilities, known as “international humanitarian law” (IHL). This concession, however, if followed by the Obama Administration and beyond, will likely reduce the practical utility of a policy and security tool of both long-standing provenance and proven current value. It will likely reduce the flexibility of the United States to respond to emerging threats before they ripen into yet another war with non-state terrorists, and it will reduce the ability of the United Sates to address terrorist threats in the most discriminating fashion advancing technology permits.

At this moment in which many policymakers, members of Congress and serious observers see primarily a need to roll back policies and assertions of authority made by the Bush Administration, any call for the Obama Administration and Congress to insist upon powers of unilateral targeted killing and to claim a zone of authority outside of armed conflict governed by IHL that even the Bush Administration did not claim must seem at once atavistic, eccentric, myopic and perverse. Many will not much care that such legal authority already exists in international and U.S. domestic law. Yet the purpose of this chapter is to suggest that, on the contrary, the uses to which the Obama Administration seeks to put targeted killing are proper, but they will require that it carefully preserve and defend legal authorities it should not be taking for granted and that its predecessors, including the Bush Administration, have not adequately preserved for their present day uses.

People who threaten serious harm to the United States will not always be al Qaeda, after all. Nor will they forever be those persons who, in the words of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the attacks of September 11.[vii] As I will explain, it would have been better had the Bush and Clinton Administrations, for their parts, formulated their legal justifications for the targeted uses of force around the legal powers traditionally asserted by the United States: the right of self-defense, including the right to use force even in circumstances not rising to the level of an “armed conflict” in order to have firmly fixed in place the clear legal ability of the United States to respond as it traditionally has. Although the United States still has a long way to go to dismember al Qaeda, its affiliates and subsidiaries, although Osama bin Laden and key al Qaeda terrorist leaders remain at large, and although the President of the United States still exercises sweeping powers both inherent and granted by Congress to use all national power against the perpetrators of September 11, time moves on. New threats will emerge, some of them from states and others from non-state actors, including terrorist organizations. Some of those new threats will be new forms of jihadist terrorism; others will champion new and different causes. Even now, Islamist terror appears to be fragmenting into loose networks of shared ideology and aspiration rather than tightly vertical organizations linked by command and control.[viii] It will take successive feats of intellectual jujitsu to cast all of the targets such developments will reasonably put in the cross hairs as, legally speaking, combatants.

Yet the problem is still deeper and more immediate than that, for the accepted space for targeted killings is eroding even within what a reasonable American might understand as the four corners of our conflict with al Qaeda. In many situations in which any American president, Obama certainly included, would want to use a targeted killing, it is unclear to some important actors—at the United Nations, among our allies, among international law scholars, and among NGO activists—as a matter of international law that a state of armed conflict actually exists or that a targeted killing can qualify as an act of self-defense. The legal situation, therefore, threatens to become one in which, on the one hand, targeted killing outside of a juridical armed conflict is legally impermissible and, on the other hand, as a practical matter, no targeted killing even within the context of a “war” with al Qaeda is legally permissible, either.

Congress’s role in this area is admittedly a peculiar one. It is mostly—though not entirely—politically defensive in nature. After all, the domestic legal authorities to conduct targeted killings and other “intelligence” uses of force have existed in statutory form at least since the legislation that established the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947 and in other forms long pre-dating that.[ix] The problem is that although domestic legal authority exists for the use of force against terrorists abroad, currents are stirring in international law and elsewhere that move to undermine that authority. Powerful trend and opinion-setting—so-called “soft law”—currents are developing in ways that, over time, promise to make the exercise of this activity ever more difficult and to create a presumption, difficult to overcome, that targeted killing is in fact both illegitimate and, indeed, per se illegal except in the narrowest of war-like conditions. The role of Congress is therefore to reassert, reaffirm, and reinvigorate the category as a matter of domestic law and policy, and as the considered, official view of the United States as a matter of international law.

“Great Power Security”

Chicago Journal of International Law, 2009
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-10

ROBERT J. DELAHUNTY, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Email: RJDELAHUNTY@stthomas.edu
JOHN YOO, University of California at Berkeley School of Law
Email: YOO@LAW.BERKELEY.EDU

The change of administration in the US may have encouraged the belief that collective security will finally have its day. A conventional wisdom also seems to be emerging among many, if not most, academics in international law that the strengthening of the UN security system would advance international peace and security. Although the twenty-first century has brought radically different security threats from those that existed when the UN Charter was first written, many seem to believe that concentrating authority in the Security Council remains the most effective international legal process for the use of force.

Resurrecting the formal UN Charter rules on the use of force, however, would have the perverse effect of making international peace and security more difficult to achieve. Not only has that system failed in practice, but it is not designed to deal with the changing nature of warfare. The Charter?s use-of-force rules were addressed to the prevention or reduction of armed conflict between states. They are not adequate to deal with the more contemporary problems of civil war, mass violence against civilians at the hands of non-state terrorist groups, the protection of populations from genocide or other atrocities inflicted by their own governments, or the violence that is bred within failed or failing states.

What is needed is a new international legal regime for regulating the use of force by states against the threats of these varying kinds. The overarching goal of this regime should be the maintenance of international peace and stability through the pursuit of global welfare. Unlike the UN Charter system, which is designed to drive the use of force by states close to zero, a reconstructed international legal system should seek to produce the optimal level of force, thus allowing armed interventions for the purpose of preventing catastrophic harms.

The emergence of new great powers (China, the EU, and India, for example) and the re-emergence of older ones (such as Russia) have apparently begun to shift the post?Cold War world from unipolarity to multipolarity. Global peace and security in the future may no longer be underwritten by an (assumedly) ?hegemonic? US. Instead, the world may experience a return to the kind of great power politics that was prevalent in Europe before World War I (and arguably, throughout recorded human history). While we would not attempt to forecast how an emerging multipolar world would work, an explicit great power system could well ameliorate the collective action problems that the current UN Charter system exacerbates, and thus could advance global welfare.

“Letters of Marque and Reprisal: The Constitutional Law and Practice of Privateering”

Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, Vol. 40, No. 2, 2009

THEODORE M COOPERSTEIN, affiliation not provided to SSRN

The United States Constitution grants to the Congress the power, among others, to issue ?Letters of Marque and Reprisal.? Although the practice seems to have fallen into disuse in this century, it was an important tool of national power for the federal government created by the Framers, who placed great import on the federal government?s role in protecting international commerce and in enforcing international law.

Privateering played a significant role before and during the Revolutionary War, and it persisted in American history as an economical way to augment naval forces against an enemy in wartime. A significant outgrowth of the practice of privateering was the body of law resulting from prize court adjudications. United States courts, in deciding title to ships and goods taken prize, determined issues both of domestic and customary international law. In this manner the federal courts significantly shaped the role of international law in the United States jurisprudence as well as assured the role of the United States in the ongoing development of customary international law. Case law concerning prizes and privateering is accordingly a useful vehicle to examine the interplay of U.S. constitutional law and customary international law as they both developed through the Nineteenth Century.

Changes in the methods of warfare during the Twentieth Century diminished the role of privateering. But the Congressional authority to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal remains. As a means to commission private actors to augment national forces in international crises, the Letter of Marque and Reprisal could yet have modern applications. It remains for innovative executive and legislative experiment to revive the ancient practice in a form befitting modern international problems.

“Is ASIO a Good Judge of Character?”

Alternative Law Journal, June 2009

SUSAN GAIL HARRIS RIMMER, Centre fo International and Public Law
Email: susan.harris-rimmer@anu.edu.au

Character issues are of increasing importance in the role of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in assessing the national security risk posed by aliens. For example, ASIO assessments underpinned the long-term detention of two Iraqi refugees on Nauru, and the deportation of US activist Mr Scott Parkin. This article considers how ASIO national security assessments are made, whether they constitute a form of character testing, and what accountability mechanisms are in place to challenge such assessments.

“The Commission’s New Border Package: Does It Take Us One Step Closer to a ‘Cyber-Fortress Europe’?”

CEPS Policy Brief No. 154, March 2008

ELSPETH GUILD, Radboud University Nijmegen – Faculty of Law, Kingsley Napley – Department of Immigration, The British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)
Email: e.guild@jur.kun.nl
SERGIO CARRERA, Centre for European Policy Studies
Email: sergio.carrera@ceps.be
FLORIAN GEYER, Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)
Email: florian.geyer@ceps.eu

On 13 February 2008, the European Commission presented a new ‘Border Package’, setting out its vision of how to foster the further management of the EU’s external border. In assessing the desirability and feasibility of the new system, CEPS JHA specialists find the Commission’s proposal ill-considered and likely to have substantial counterproductive effects on the ground. They expect it to create the same sort of public relations problems as do similar US measures among a travelling public that finds itself increasingly the object of state suspicion, with no concrete reason or grounds.

“As Necessity Creates the Rule: Eisentrager, Boumediene and the Enemy – How Strategic Realities Can Constitutionally Require Greater Rights for Detainess in the Wars of the Twenty-First Century”

University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2009

MICHAEL BAHAR, JAG Corps, U.S. Navy
Email: mbahar@post.harvard.edu

With the 2006 publication of the Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, adhering to law has officially become a strategic imperative. Yet, court decisions and briefs still operate under the assumption that the application of law to the battlefield shackles the military. Even decisions like Boumediene, in which the Court granted Guantanamo Bay detainees habeas rights, does so apologetically. But this article demonstrates that law is not only a strategic necessity in today?s conflicts, but that the Constitution itself is a strategically pragmatic document that was designed to allow restrictions on individual rights when military necessity requires it – but only so long as that necessity exists. The Court must continue to exercise its constitutional duty to review executive claims of necessity, and as the strategic situation changes, so must the level of rights afforded to detainees. Accordingly, this article posits a battlefield jurisprudence. At the far end, only constitutional enemies, defined as those individuals connected to a state engaged in hostilities, can receive prisoner of war treatment, including indefinite detention. For all other individuals, the strategic or pragmatic Constitution affords lawmakers the opportunity to tailor rules to optimize the level of legal rights and thereby maximize the chances for a positive outcome for the U.S.

“Power Through Clarity: How Clarifying the Old State-Based Laws Can Reveal the Strategic Power of Law”

University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 30, No. 4, 2009

MICHAEL BAHAR, JAG Corps, U.S. Navy
Email: mbahar@post.harvard.edu

As the United States takes on the violent non-state actors, whose arsenals now exceed those of many states, policymakers and leaders should not give up on the ?old-fashioned? rules designed for relations among states. When properly clarified, the rules reveal powerful avenues for defending national security against non-state threats like Al Qaeda. While we cannot wage war against non-state actors and remain consistent with international and constitutional law, we can use force against those who take a direct part in hostilities, commit violent attacks outside the jurisdiction of any state, or engage in action sufficiently hostile to warrant immediate measures in individual or unit self-defense. Ultimately, force will not solve many of the great twenty-first century security challenges on its own – for national security must be a national exertion just as international security must be a global one – but, there is great cause to hope that in the next decades, a renewed embrace of the international and constitutional law of war will fully reveal the empowering abilities of both and the law?s ability to enhance the security of all.

“Balancing Formalist Methods with Functionalist Needs: Why Youngstown Remains the Most Viable Framework for Analyzing National Security Issues”

ELIZABETH BAHR, affiliation not provided to SSRN
Email: ebahr@gmu.edu
JOSH BLACKMAN, George Mason University – School of Law
Email: joshblackman@gmail.com

Part I of this paper briefly introduces the two competing schools of jurisprudential thought of formalism and functionalism. Part II analyzes Youngstown through both the formalist and functionalist lenses, and highlights how these lenses separately influenced the majority opinion of Justice Black and the more widely cited concurring opinion of Justice Jackson.

Part III carries the analysis from both Parts I and II, and discusses the influence of formalism and functionalism specifically on the areas of national security law where separation of powers issues are implicated. By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of both formalism and functionalism as presented in separation of powers cases, Part III elucidates why it was inevitable that Justice Jackson?s functionalist and pragmatic concurring opinion in Youngstown prevailed as the most popular judicial prism through which courts dissect and analyze national security-related separation of powers issues.

Parts IV and V of this paper undertake an empirical analysis of some of the major cases decided since the 1952 Youngstown decision that have either explicitly or implicitly applied Justice Jackson?s three-tiered Youngstown framework. Since 1952, two types of Youngstown cases have emerged: those that fit neatly within the three-tiered framework – like the Dames & Moore scenario in Part IV – and those that must employ an implicit four-tiered framework in order to assess the limits of executive authority – such as the Guantanamo Detention cases in Part V. By thoroughly examining not only the published opinions, but also the appellate briefs of the petitioners and respondents, as well as any related amicus briefs or applicable legislative history, Parts IV and V expose the seemingly arbitrary nature of a functionalist method of judicial review, and show how this method of analysis – although it is flexible and allows judges to reach a necessary result – inevitably forces all courts to examine unreliable and malleable atextual sources. However, these Parts also show that the benefit to a functionalist framework in national-security cases, versus a more formalist framework is that the risk of judicial overreaching is avoided, and the precise scope of the President?s Article II powers continue to remain undefined, and thus, unimpeded by judicial precedent and available for future use should the national security of the United States ever require them.


Hamlily v. Obama (major opinion partially accepting and partially rejecting the revised

May 19, 2009

* Hamlily v. Obama (D.D.C. May 19, 2009) (Judge Bates recognizes a relatively limited degree of detention authority in the GTMO habeas cases)

Judge Bates, fresh from becoming the new chief of the FISA Court, today issued an important decision that partially accepts and partially rejects the Obama administration’s recently-revised definition of its military detention authority vis-à-vis the GTMO detainees.  Specifically, Judge Bates holds that detention authority includes those who are functional members of AQ, the Taliban, and co-belligerent groups, as well as those others who directly participate in hostilities.  It does not include, however, those who provide support to these groups separate and apart from membership, or those who provide support to hostile acts separate and apart from direct participation.

Below I provide the conclusion of his opinion, and then an outline of his rationale:

Conclusion:

After careful consideration, the Court is satisfied that the government’s detention authority is generally consistent with the authority conferred upon the President by the AUMF and the core law of war principles that govern non-international armed conflicts. In those instances where the government’s framework has exceeded that which is permitted by the law of war – specifically with respect to the concept of “support” — the Court rejects such bases for detention. Therefore, the Court concludes that under the AUMF the President has the authority to detain persons that the President determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for those attacks. The President also has the authority to detain persons who are or were part of Taliban or al Qaeda forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed (i.e., directly participated in) a belligerent act in aid of such enemy armed forces.” (p. 21)

Outline:

1. Background:

– The question presented: what is the scope of detention authority under the AUMF, as informed by the law of war? (p.1)

– The judiciary owes some degree of deference to the executive in matters relating to foreign affairs. (p.6-7) [Note that Judge Bates here cites the dueling law review articles on this topic by Eric Posner and Cass Sunstein, on one hand, and Derek Jinks and Neal Katyal on the other.  And they say judges don’t read law review articles anymore…]

2. Summary of the holding:

The court “rejects the concept of “substantial support” as an independent basis for detention. Likewise, the Court finds that “directly support[ing] hostilities” is not a proper basis for detention. In short, the Court can find no authority in domestic law or the law of war, nor can the government point to any, to justify the concept of “support” as a valid ground for detention. The Court does not accept the government’s position in full, then, even given the deference accorded to the Executive in this realm, because it is ultimately the province of the courts to say “what the law is,” Marbury v.Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177, 2 L.Ed. 60 (1803), and in this context that means identifying the “permissible bounds” of the Executive’s detention authority, Hamdi, 542 U.S. at 522 n.1. Detention based on substantial or direct support of the Taliban, al Qaeda or associated forces, without more, is simply not warranted by domestic law or the law of war. With the exception of these two “support”-based elements, however, the Court will adopt the government’s proposed framework, largely for the reasons explained in Gherebi. The AUMF and the law of war do authorize the government to detain those who are “part of” the “Taliban or al Qaida forces.”  (p. 7)

3. Explanation of the holding:

a. The AUMF: The AUMF, as a matter of domestic law, grants detention authority with respect to the members of the organizations it covers. (p. 10-12)

b. Construing the AUMF in light of the laws of war: The next question is whether this grant of authority is compatible with the law of war, given the detainees argument that there are no combatants and hence no status-based detention in non-international armed conflict.  (p. 12)  The petitioners argued instead for detention being limited to those who directly participated in hostilities (DPH), and they argued that DPH should be construed narrowly (though the court noted that their own expert appeared to support a broader formulation of DPH).  (p. 12)

c. Detention authority in non-international armed conflict: The court accepted that the relationship between the US and AQ is best described as a non-international armed conflict and that there is no “combatant” status in NIAC, but nonetheless rejected the argument that this compels the conclusion that all detainees must then be categorizes as “civilians.”  (P.13)  The court noted that Common Article 3 itself refers to protections for “members of armed forces who have laid down their weapons,” and that AP II provides certain protections specifically directed toward the “civilian” population (implying the existence of non-civilians, according to the court).  (p.14)  Judge Bates then cited a pair of ICTY decisions in support of this view. (p. 14-15)  [As to customary law, interestingly, the court observes that “candidly” this is an open question.]

d. The meaning of associated forces” – the court concludes that the AUMF extends beyond AQ and the Taliban to “associated forces,” which it defined in terms of co-belligerent status.  (p.16).  The court also noted, however, that “”Associated forces” do not include terrorist organizations who merely share an abstract philosophy or even a common purpose with al Qaeda — there must be an actual association in the current conflict with al Qaeda or the Taliban.” (p. 16 n. 17)

e. Who counts as a member or part of a covered group? The court declined to offer a comprehensive test, saying there are “no settled criteria,” that the decision must be individualized, and that the analysis should be “more functional than formal.” (p. 17)  The key, following the earlier decision of Judge Walton in Gherebi, is not self-identification as a member but, instead, “whether the individual functions or participates within or under the command structure of the organization — i.e., whether he receives and executes orders or directions.” (p. 17)

f. “Support” for a covered group as a ground for detention: The opinion states that the government provided no argument to explain how the laws of war support use of a “support” criterion as a basis for detention, other than what the court found to be an unpersuasive effort at oral argument to root the concept in the notion of co-belligerency.  (p. 18)  Judge Bates concludes that the concept instead is an “import” from civilian criminal law. (p. 18-19)  He therefore concludes: “Detaining an individual who “substantially supports” such an organization, but is not part of it, is simply not authorized by the AUMF itself or by the law of war. Hence, the government’s reliance on substantial support” as a basis for detention independent of membership in the Taliban, al Qaeda or an associated force is rejected.” (p. 19)

g. Support for a covered group as evidence of functional membership in the group: Judge Bates went out of his way to observe that evidence of support—particularly recurring support-could constitute evidence that a person as a functional matter is part of AQ, the Taliban, etc., even if they would not self-identify as such. (p.19-20).

h. Support for hostilities as a ground for detention: Citing the same rational provided above, Judge Bates also rejected the proposition that supporting hostile acts can provide a basis for detention. (p. 20)

i. Committing a belligerent act as a ground for detention: Judge Bates concluded that detention authority does extend to persons who commit belligerent acts, a category he defined with reference to the DPH concept.  (p. 20)  He did not attempt to define the outer parameters of DPH, but did note that the ICRC is engaged in an attempt to do just that, and observed that the outer bounds will be determined as needed in the habeas context on a case-by-case basis.  (p. 21)


new FOIA guidelines; Al Shimari v. CACI; forthcoming scholarship (NSL)

March 19, 2009

1. New FOIA Guidelines Issued by DOJ (for all agencies)

The Justice Department has issued new guidelines, for all agencies to follow, with respect to FOIA requests.  The guidelines are posted here.  From the press release:

The new FOIA guidelines address both application of the presumption of disclosure and the effective administration of the FOIA across the government. As to the presumption of disclosure, the Attorney General directs agencies not to withhold records simply because they can technically do so. In his memo, the Attorney General encourages agencies to make discretionary disclosures of records and to release records in part whenever they cannot be released in full.

The Attorney General also establishes a new standard for the defense of agency decisions to withhold records in response to a FOIA request. Now, the Department will defend a denial only if the agency reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by one of the statutory exemptions, or disclosure is prohibited by law. Under the previous defensibility standard of the rules rescinded today, the Department had said it would defend a denial if the agency had a “sound legal basis” for its decision to withhold.

In addition to establishing criteria governing the presumption of disclosure, the Attorney General’s FOIA guidelines emphasize that agencies must be sure to have in place effective systems for responding to requests. In the memo, the Attorney General calls on each agency to be fully accountable for its administration of the FOIA.

The Attorney General’s memo also emphasizes that FOIA is the responsibility of everyone in each agency, and that in order to improve FOIA performance, agencies must address the key roles played by a broad range of personnel who work with each agency’s FOIA professionals. The memo highlights the key role played by agency Chief FOIA Officers who will now be reporting each year to the Department of Justice on their progress in improving FOIA administration. And, the Attorney General also directs FOIA professionals to work cooperatively with FOIA requesters and to anticipate interest in records before requests are made and to make requested records available promptly.

The Office of Information Policy will conduct training and provide guidance on the new FOIA guidelines to executive branch departments and agencies, as well as to interested groups, in order to maintain a comprehensive approach to greater government transparency.

Today’s memo rescinds the guidelines issued on Oct. 12, 2001, by former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

2. Al Shimari v. CACI (E.D. Va. Mar. 18, 2009)

The plaintiffs in this suit are four Iraqi citizens suing CACI on the ground that contract interrogators employed by CACI abused them at Abu Ghraib.  In this lengthy decision, which is attached as a pdf, the district court grants CACI’s motion to dismiss as to the plaintiffs’ Alien Tort Statute claims.  But it rejects the motion in all other respects (though it did not foreclose the possibility of an immunity finding at a later date, after discovery).

3. Forthcoming Scholarship (NSL)

Administrative Detention of Terrorists: Why Detain, and Detain Whom?”

Matthew C. Waxman (Columbia Law)

From the introduction:

A debate rages in the halls of universities as well as in Congress and national security agencies about whether the United States should enact new “administrative” or “preventive” detention laws – laws that would authorize the detention of suspected terrorists outside the normal criminal justice system.1 Advocates argue that criminal law alone is inadequate to combat transnational terrorist networks spanning continents and waging violence at a level of intensity and sophistication previously achievable only by powerful states, but that the law of war is inadequate to protect liberty.2 Jack Goldsmith and Neal Katyal, for example, call on “Congress to establish a comprehensive system of preventive detention that is overseen by a national security court.”3 Critics warn that new administrative detention laws will undermine liberty, and they assert that criminal law already provides the government with ample tools to arrest,

charge, and prosecute suspected terrorists.4 Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner writes that preventive detention “cuts the heart out of any concept of human liberty.”5

This debate has only intensified since the Supreme Court held last Term in Boumediene v. Bush that prisoners at Guantánamo have a constitutional right to habeas corpus review of their detention.6 The Court expressly left unresolved important substantive questions such as the scope of the Executive’s power to detain,7 and delegated to lower courts resolution of

the procedural issues likely to arise in hundreds of resulting habeas petitions.8 Administrative detention proponents argue that these openings invite Congress to enact legislation to clarify the uncertainties, recognizing that the modern-day terrorist threat necessitates new legal tools.9 Critics draw the opposite lesson from Boumediene. A week after the decision came down, the bipartisan Constitution Project published a report condemning administrative detention proposals, arguing that Boumediene “illustrates [that] existing Article III courts are fully capable of adjudicating issues regarding the legality of detention. There is no need to create a specialized tribunal either for Guantanamo detainees or for anyone else who may be subject to detention under existing law.”10

This article aims to reframe the administrative detention debate, not to resolve it. In doing so, however, it aspires to advance the discussion by highlighting the critical substantive choices embedded in calls for legal procedural reform and by pointing the way toward appropriately tailored legislative options. It argues that the current debate’s focus on procedural

and institutional questions of how to detain suspected terrorists has been allowed to overshadow the questions of why administratively detain, and whom to detain. Not only are the answers to these questions at least as important as the procedural rules in safeguarding and balancing liberty and security, but their resolution should precede analysis of the procedural

issues. The soundness of any specific procedural architecture depends heavily on its purpose and on the substantive determinations it is expected to make.

To some, the answers to the why and whom questions may seem obvious – to prevent terrorism we should detain terrorists. With those basic ideas apparently settled, the administrative detention debate tends to jump quickly to the question of how to detain: What procedural protections should we afford suspects? What rights should they have to challenge

evidence proffered against them – and with what kind of lawyer assistance? What kinds of officials should adjudicate cases?11

The answers to why and whom are more complex and consequential than they may seem at first glance. There are several different ways in which detention can help prevent terrorism, including incapacitating terrorists, disrupting specific plots, deterring potential terrorists, and gathering information through interrogation. The choice of which among these preventive objectives to emphasize will, in turn, drive the way the class of individuals subject to detention is defined, with major implications for both liberty and security. The way we answer the why and whom questions will then significantly determine the procedural architectural needs of any new administrative detention regime. This article therefore cautions against jumping too quickly in administrative detention discussions to the issue of procedural design, or the how questions.

Part I of this article briefly explores the Bush administration’s approach to the why and whom questions, in particular its reliance on a theory of “enemy combatants,” and the logic behind calls to reform it through administrative detention legislation. Part II examines various strategic objectives behind administrative detention proposals, and Parts III and IV then explain how those objectives translate into different definitions of the class subject to proposed detention laws. Part V returns to the procedural issues and shows how new administrative detention processes – or perhaps even special national security courts – would likely look very different depending on the strategic choices underlying them. Rather than coming down for or against new administrative detention law, this article identifies the approaches that stand the best chance of successfully protecting security and liberty, as well as questions that should guide further consideration and refinement of the policies.

Homeland Security, Information Policy, and the Transatlantic Alliance

Stewart A. Baker
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Nathan Alexander Sales
George Mason University School of Law

Abstract:

This short essay uses a recent case study – the controversy surrounding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s access to European airline reservation data – as a vehicle for exploring the European Union’s new enthusiasm for projecting its data-privacy values globally. We begin by discussing how DHS uses passenger name records, or “PNR,” to detect potential terrorist operatives. We then examine the legal authorities under which passenger data is collected and used, including domestic constitutional and statutory norms as well as principles of international law. Next, the essay discusses the hostile response of some EU policymakers to DHS’s use of reservation data, and offers possible explanations for their efforts to apply European data-privacy principles to American national-security initiatives. Finally, we propose solutions to transatlantic conflicts that will help preserve both individual privacy and national autonomy.

And from the intro, which I just couldn’t resist reprinting:

It’s June 14, 2003 at Chicago’s O’Hare international airport. The U.S.-led war to topple Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime in Iraq was launched a little less than three months ago. Resurgent fears of terrorism have kept some would-be passengers from the skies, but O’Hare is still operating at a fairly brisk pace.

A Jordanian man named Ra’ed al-Banna is among the throng of passengers who have just arrived on KLM flight 611 from Amsterdam. After waiting in line, al-Banna presents his passport to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

The CBP officers consult the computerized targeting system used to screen passengers who seek to enter the U.S. The information about al-Banna – drawn from his airline reservations and past travel – triggers a closer look. The officers examine al-Banna’s documents, and they begin asking him questions.

Something doesn’t add up. Al-Banna has a legitimate Jordanian passport; he holds a valid visa that allows him to work in the United States; and he had visited the U.S. before for a lengthy stay. But the officers aren’t satisfied that he’s being completely truthful with his answers, so they decide to refuse him admission. Al-Banna’s fingerprints are taken, and he is put on a plane back to Jordan.

So far it sounds like a fairly routine day at the border. And it was, until events in Iraq nearly two years later gave it a new, and sinister, significance.

On February 28, 2005, at about 8:30 in the morning, several hundred police recruits were lined up outside a clinic in Hilla, a city in the south of Iraq. With no warning, a car drove into the crowd and detonated a massive bomb. 132 people were killed, and about as many were wounded. At the time, it was the deadliest suicide bombing Iraq had seen.

The driver was Ra’ed al-Banna. We know that because when authorities found the steering wheel of his car, his forearm was still chained to it.

No one knows why al-Banna wanted to be in the U.S. in 2003, or what he would have done if he had gotten in. But we do know what kept him out – the government’s ability to quickly marshal the data that first triggered a closer look, and that the CBP officer later used to question al-Banna closely and to conclude that his answers weren’t satisfactory.

At the center of that system was airline reservation data, known as Passenger Name Records or “PNR.”

The Why and How of Preventive Detention in the War on Terror

Stephanie Cooper Blum

Department of Defense, Navy, Naval Postgraduate School ; Department of Homeland Security
Thomas Cooley Law Review, Summer 2009

Abstract:

After September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration decided to detain certain individuals suspected of being members or agents of al Qaeda or the Taliban as enemy combatants and hold them indefinitely and incommunicado for the duration of the war on terror. The rationale behind this system of preventive detention was to incapacitate suspected terrorists, facilitate interrogation, and hold them when traditional criminal charges were not feasible for a variety of reasons. While the rationale for preventive detention is legitimate and the need for preventive detention real, the Bush Administration’s approach was reactionary, illogical, and probably unconstitutional. This article explores the underlying rationales for preventive detention as a tool in this war on terror and analyzes the legal obstacles to creating a preventive-detention regime. In the end, it offers some overarching principles that could be used by Congress or President Obama’s newly-created Special Inter-Agency Task Force to enact a comprehensive preventive-detention regime for U.S persons and foreign nationals. While establishing a lawful preventive-detention regime for terrorist suspects is challenging, there appears to be room for enacting such a regime if Congress sets forth explicit legislation allowing for preventive detention and the suspects are provided a meaningful opportunity to challenge the underlying evidence.

Attachments: CACI


Goldsmith on detention options and national security courts

February 11, 2009

* Jack Goldsmith, “Long Term Terrorist Detention and Our National Security Court” (Feb. 9, 2009)

A Working Paper of the Series on Counterterrorism and American Statutory Law, a joint project of the Brookings Institution, the Georgetown University Law Center, and the Hoover Institution

http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/papers/2009/0209_detention_goldsmith/0209_detention_goldsmith.pdf

This 20-pager is a must-read document for those following the debate about how best to proceed in connection with detention policy.  From the introduction:

For years there has been a debate about whether to create a national security court to supervise the non-criminal military detention of dangerous terrorists. The debate has many dimensions and is often confusing. Some national security court opponents are really opposed to the non-criminal military detention system that such a court would supervise, and insist that terrorists be tried in criminal court or released. Other opponents of a national security court accept the need for non-criminal military detention but do not favor institutionalizing a new and “secret” court to oversee these detentions. Proponents of a national security court come in many stripes as well. They advocate many versions of the court with many different tasks, ranging from various forms of detention supervision to the conduct of criminal trials.

This essay attempts to simplify these issues, at least a bit. It argues that the national security court debate—a debate in which I have participated1—is largely a canard. The fundamental issue is whether the United States should have a system of non-criminal military detention for enemy terrorists who for many reasons are difficult to prosecute and convict by trial. If the Obama administration chooses to maintain a system of non-criminal military detention—and for reasons set forth below, I think it should—it will necessarily also choose to have a national security court. This is so because federal courts constituting a “national security court” must supervise non-criminal detention under the constitutional writ of habeas corpus and a likely statutory jurisdiction conferred by Congress. Viewed this way, we have had a centralized and thinly institutionalized national security court for years in the federal courts of the District of Columbia, which have been supervising Guantánamo Bay military detentions. The hard question about a national security court, once we accept the need for non-criminal military detention, is not whether it should exist but rather what its rules should be and, just as important, who should make these rules. In my view, Congress and the President, rather than the courts, must play the predominant role in crafting these rules. After explaining these points, I outline some of the issues and legal policy tradeoffs that the political branches should address, including whether such a court should be an independent institution akin to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and whether it should conduct criminal trials in addition to supervising detention.


Al-Adahi v. Obama; Sharifulla v. Bush; forthcoming scholarship

February 11, 2009

1. Al-Adahi v. Obama (D.D.C. Feb. 10, 2009)

Judge Kessler has issued an opinion denying requests by two GTMO detainees for injunctive relief relating to the manner in which the military carries out forced feeding required by the petitioners’ hunger strikes.  In short, Judge Kessler determined that federal courts lack jurisdiction over conditions-of-confinement claims thanks to the Military Commissions Act, and that this aspect of the MCA was unaffected by Boumediene.  She also determined that use of a restraint chair in the feeding process most likely would not constitute “deliberate indifference” violating the Eighth Amendment (interestingly, the court appears to assume, at least for the sake of argument, that detainees have Eighth Amendment rights; perhaps in my quick skim I missed the discussion of this issue), and that a prohibition on use of restraints would expose medical personnel to danger. The full opinion appears here. Read the rest of this entry »