habeas denied to two GTMO detainees: Fahmi Salem Al-Assani

February 25, 2010

* Al-Adahi v. Obama (D.D.C. Feb. 24, 2010) (Kessler, J.)

Judge Kessler has denied habeas relief to two GTMO detainees who are part of the group of petitioners in Al-Adahi v. Obama. The underlying opinions are not yet available but the orders are here:

Fahmi Salem Al-Assani:

https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2005cv0280-551

Suleiman Awadh Bin Agil Al-Nahdi:

https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2005cv0280-548


Report on GTMO habeas litigation

January 22, 2010

[with apologies for the self-promotion…comments/criticisms welcome]

The Emerging Law of Detention: The Guantanamo Cases as Lawmaking

A Report Published by the Brookings Institution (Governance Studies)

  • Benjamin Wittes (Brookings)
  • Robert Chesney (University of Texas School of Law; Brookings)
  • Rabea Benhalim (Brookings)

Abstract:
President Obama’s decision not to seek additional legislative authority for detentions at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba—combined with Congress’s lack of interest in the task—means that, for good or for ill, judges through their exercise of habeas jurisdiction are writing the substantive and procedural rules governing military detention of terrorist suspects.

Our purpose in this report is to describe in detail and analyze the courts’ work to date—and thus map the contours of the nascent law of military detention that is emerging from it. We pay particular attention to the courts’ decisions relating to: the substantive grounds for detention (including whether a once-adequate relationship with enemy forces may be vitiated); the nature and allocation of the burden of proof (including whether the burden actually varies over time); government requests for presumptions that its evidence is authentic and accurate; the admissibility and weight of hearsay evidence; the extent to which interrogation statements may be admitted or given weight in the face of torture, coercion, or involuntariness arguments; and the relevance of the “mosaic” theory.

We find a considerable amount of disagreement among the judges regarding most of these matters—enough to suggest that in at least some instances the merits might well have been resolved differently had the detainee’s case been heard by a different judge.

The appellate process may eventually impose greater uniformity. In the meantime, the lack of clarity regarding such important matters as the scope of the government’s detention power and the circumstances in which an interrogation statement can be used to justify a detention presents problems from the perspectives of both the detainees and the government. Neither can be sure of the rules of the road in the ongoing litigation, and the prospect that allocation of a case to a particular judge may prove dispositive on the merits can cut in either direction. Because it remains unclear how far the courts’ jurisdiction extends, moreover, nobody knows at this stage precisely how many cases these rules will ultimately govern and where else in the world they will have a direct impact. More fundamentally, because the courts in these cases are defining not merely the rules for habeas review but also the substantive law of detention itself, they have implications far beyond the litigation context. The rules the judges craft could have profound implications for decisions in the field concerning whether to initially detain, or even target, a given person, whether to maintain a detention after an initial screening, whether to employ certain lawful but coercive interrogation methods, and so forth.


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.


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)


Al-Adahi v. Obama; Gherebi v. Obama; forthcoming scholarship

February 13, 2009

1. Al-Adahi v. Obama (D.D.C. Feb. 12, 2009) (Kessler, J.)

Judge Kessler has issued an opinion concluding that the government’s “search” obligation when it comes to identifying and disclosing potentially relevant information runs to information reviewed in connection with any GTMO habeas factual return (not just the return for a particular detainee), but that the obligation to does not run more generally.  See the opinion and accompanying case management order.

2. Gherebi v. Obama (D.D.C. Feb. 13, 2009) (Walton, J.)

Judge Walton has issued an order instructing the parties in the GTMO petitions to be prepared at a February 18th status conference to set a schedule for resolving the issue of the scope of the government’s military detention authority.  Judge Walton did not forbid the administration from arguing for a case-by-case approach as it attempted, unsuccesfully, before Judge Bates in Hamlily v. Obama on the 11th, but he did signal that this is not likely to work and that he wants the government prepared to set a schedule for addressing the general scope of detention authority.

3. Forthcoming Scholarship

Offshoring the War on Terror

Does the Constitution Follow the Flag?: The Evolution of Territoriality in American Law

Kal Raustiala (UCLA)

Offshoring is usually thought of in the context of globalization and economic activity. Yet a signal feature of the Bush Administration’s “war on terror” was the offshoring of core security functions. The most famous example is the use of Guantanamo Bay as a detention center, but many other examples of extraterritorial activity exist, such as the practice of “extraordinary rendition.” This chapter, drawn from a forthcoming book from Oxford University Press titled Does the Constitution Follow the Flag?, charts and analyzes these developments, and associated judicial decisions such as Boumediene v. Bush, with reference to larger trends in American politics and jurisprudence.

“Combatants and the Combat Zone”

University of Richmond Law Review, Forthcoming
Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 08-39

MARY ELLEN O’CONNELL, Notre Dame Law School
Email: MaryEllenOConnell@nd.edu

Following the attacks of 9/11, President George W. Bush declared that the United States was in a “global war on terrorism”. His administration claimed the wartime privileges to kill without warning and detain without trial anyone suspected of association with terrorist organizations anywhere in the world. These claims were made in the face of contrary international law. Under international law, a war or armed conflict is characterized by organized armed groups engaged in intense, armed hostilities. To meet these criteria, such groups are associated with territory. In addition to the concept of armed conflict, the concept of conflict zone is important. Killing combatants or detaining them without trial may be permissible when done in a zone of actual armed hostilities. Outside such a zone, however, authorities must attempt to arrest a suspect and only target to kill those who pose an immediate lethal threat and refuse to surrender.

“Passing the Buck: State Responsibility for Private Military Companies”

European Journal of International Law, Vol. 19, Issue 5, pp. 989-1014, 2008

CARSTEN HOPPE, European University Institute
Email: carsten.hoppe@eui.eu

States hire private military or security companies [PMSCs/contractors] in armed conflict and occupation to fulfil tasks formerly exclusively handled by soldiers, including combat, guarding and protection, and detention and interrogation. PMSC personnel, like soldiers, can and do violate or act incompatibly with International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law. Relying on the International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility, the article compares the responsibility of states for such conduct of their soldiers with that which states incur with respect to the conduct of contractors they hire. It reveals a regulatory gap which states seeking to reduce their exposure to international responsibility can exploit. Positive obligations of states under International Humanitarian Law narrow this gap to some degree. An analysis of the duty to prevent demonstrates that the potential of positive Human Rights Law obligations to bridge the gap – although important – remains limited by their due diligence nature, and problems of extraterritorial applicability. It is then argued that the conduct of certain contractors exercising coercive functions can be attributed to the hiring state as that of persons forming part of its armed forces in the sense of the customary provision enshrined in Article 3 of Hague Convention IV of 1907 and Article 91 of Additional Protocol I. Where this is the case, the state will be responsible for their conduct as it would be for that of its soldiers, which fully eliminates the regulatory gap.

“The Rules on the Use of Force at the Beginning of the XXI Century”

Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 319-342, 2006

TARCISIO GAZZINI, affiliation not provided to SSRN

The article discusses the impact of recent military interventions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq on the rules governing the use of force in international law. It argues that, in spite of some egregious violations, existing rules have not been changed or fallen into desuetude. The attempt to dismantle the collective security system and the claim to relax beyond recognition the general prohibition on the use of force have found the strong opposition of the overwhelming majority of the UN membership. Furthermore, existing rules and Article 51 of the UN Charter have proved flexible enough to protect States against the threats posed by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Their application, nonetheless, remains extremely problematic and confirms the need for a collective control over the use of military force.

“The Temporal Dimension of Self-Defence: Anticipation, Pre-Emption, Prevention and Immediacy”

Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 361-369, 2006

T.D. GILL, University of Amsterdam – Faculty of Law
Email: T.D.Gill@uva.nl

This article explores the temporal dimension of the right of self-defense, in particular, the controversy relating to the possibility of responding to the potential threat of attack which has resulted from the publication by the U.S. Government of its National Security Strategy document in 2002, in which the U.S. Government claimed a right to use force to pre-empt such threats. In assessing the temporal scope of self-defense an examination is made of the dual customary-Charter nature of the right of self-defence and conclusion is drawn that both sources of law are relevant in assessing any claim to use force in advance of an armed attack on the basis of the Caroline criteria of immediacy, necessity and proportionality, which are still relevant today.

“The Emerging Use-of-Force Paradigm”

Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 309-317, 2006

MICHAEL J. GLENNON, Tufts University – The Fletcher School
Email: michael.glennon@tufts.edu

Change has been the source of many recent proposals concerning United Nations (UN) reform, and because that report has also been a focal point of discussion concerning the law that ought to govern the use of force, it is appropriate to consider closely the report’s treatment of that subject. Viewing the topic afresh, one would suppose that a useful commentary would have addressed four questions:
(1) What security threats do states face in the twenty-first century?
(2) What rules are in place to meet those threats?
(3) Do the rules work?
(4) If not, how can they be fixed?

“You are the Weakest Link and We Will Help You! The Comprehensive Strategy of the United Nations to Fight Terrorism”

Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 371-397, 2006

NOËLLE QUÉNIVET, affiliation not provided to SSRN

In 2004, the United Nations Secretary-General published the report of the high-level panel of experts on threats, challenges and change that projected a comprehensive strategy to fight various types of scourges that afflict humankind and notably terrorism. The report and the following world summit documents inscribe themselves in established trends set by the State community and the United Nations in the past decades. Since 11 September, five different wide-encompassing strategies have been offered to the State community to come to terms with terrorism. This article focuses on this proliferation of documents and their inconsistency in terms of content. Yet, it also pinpoints the common thread that runs through the documents, namely that the comprehensive strategy must address the root causes of terrorism, strengthen States and promote the rule of law and human rights, three targets that can be reached by the implementation of a strong policy of capacity-building. In all cases, the State community works on the premise that weak and rogue States will consent to be helped in building national and regional capacity to combat terrorism. Undoubtedly, convincing weak and rogue States to abide by international standards will require more than just capacity-building to deflect terrorism. Rather, the United Nations will need to conceptualise general measures to prevent and reverse state failure, which in turn means that the strategy must be indeed ‘comprehensive’.

“The Impact of the Responsibility to Protect on Peacekeeping”

Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 429-464, 2006

SUSAN C. BREAU, affiliation not provided to SSRN

This article examines the impact of the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect on Peacekeeping in the United Nations. One of the key debates in peacekeeping is whether there is a duty to use force to protect civilians from genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The practice of UN peacekeeping is evolving in many instances, with the notable exception of Darfur, into robust peacemaking actions with a positive responsibility to protect civilians within the field of operations. This article reviews the development of the concept of the responsibility to protect and then applies the various parts of the doctrine to actual situations of threats to international peace and security.

“The Expanding Law of Self-Defence”

Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 343-359, 2006

NATALINO RONZITTI, affiliation not provided to SSRN

Since the entry into force of the UN Charter, self-defence has become the preferred excuse for States to justify their use of force, for use of force is in principle banned not only by the Charter but also by modern constitutions. The author examines how States are stretching the notion of this permissible use of force to justify their armed actions in foreign territory. Although it is still the object of controversy between continental and overseas lawyers, a consensus seems to be emerging on the lawfulness of anticipatory self-defence, provided that it is given a narrow interpretation. On the contrary, pre-emption has not gained currency within the international community. Another emerging consensus is related to the origin of an armed attack, which may come not only from States but also from non-State entities to trigger the right of self-defence. The author suggests that a declaratory GA resolution, such as the ones on Friendly Relations and on the Definition of Aggression, could clarify the subject. However, his conclusion is pessimistic, because States prefer to leave the boundaries of self-defence undefined to retain their freedom of action.

“Regional Organisations and the Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Three Recent Regional African Peace Operations”

Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 483-508, 2006

MARTEN ZWANENBURG, University of Leiden

The leitmotiv of this article is the recommendation by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change that authorisation from the Security Council should in all cases be sought for regional peace operations. It discusses the legal basis for such operations, and three recent regional peace operations are analysed in detail: African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), Economic Community of West African States in Cote d’Ivoire (ECOFORCE) and Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa in the Central African Republic (FOMUC). This article concludes that the practice with respect to these operations does not support a requirement of Security Council authorisation, where there is consent of the parties or, it appears, the government of the host state alone.

“The UN-Led Multilateral Institutional Response to Jihadist Terrorism: Is a Global Counterterrorism Body Needed?”
Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 399-427, 2006

ERIC ROSAND, affiliation not provided to SSRN

This article first briefly outlines the current terrorist threat posed by militant Islamist radical terrorism and the complexity and evolving nature of threat. It highlights the lack of consensus in academic and policy communities regarding the underlying causes of this terrorism. It them posits that the overarching challenge in the next few years will be to maintain the broad-based international co-operation in the fight against terrorism that has existed since 11 September 2001, which is essential to address the threat effectively. Elements of this challenge include dispelling the notion that the US-led counterterrorism effort is targeting Islam and keeping the global South engaged. Durable, effective and flexible mechanisms are needed at the global, regional and national levels to ensure that multifaceted, holistic strategies are developed and implemented to address these issues. The article then outlines the current capacity of multilateral institutions to contribute to the fight against terrorism. The performance of the main UN counterterrorism bodies – led by the Security Council’s different counterterrorism entities – as well as some of the key regional and functional ones, this article concludes, has been uneven. Different organisations have developed counterterrorism programs and units, but these have emerged from political reactions rather than strategic decisions with corresponding achievable technical objectives. The duplication of efforts, overlapping mandates and lack of co-ordination at the international, regional and sub-regional levels have limited the different bodies’ overall contribution to the global non-military counterterrorism effort and have left many of the world’s vulnerabilities to terrorism unaddressed. This article concludes that maintaining international co-operation and the focus on capacity-building and other non-military counterterrorism measures, as well as the need to address the proliferation of counterterrorism bodies, highlights the need for an effective multilateral body at the center of the effort. The UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee was supposed to be this body, but it has been unable to fulfill its broad mandate effectively. The article details the limitations of the current UN Security Council-led approach and the inherent, political, administrative and budgetary challenges of operating within the UN system that would make it difficult to co-ordinate global capacity-building efforts effectively. While it proposes a possible short-term improvement – the consolidation of the different parts of the Security Council counterterrorism program into as single body – in the end, it argues that a new international body dedicated to counterterrorism outside of, but perhaps related in some way to, the UN may be needed.


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 »