Policy Mic: Military Commissions Are a Failed Experiment, Try Terror Suspects in Civilian Courts

Op-ed by Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, JAGC, USN (Ret.) .

Jack Goldsmith, a former Bush administration official, recently wrote about how the Obama administration learned to love military commissions. Goldsmith’s narrative has a certain intuitive appeal: Obama campaigned against military commissions but, once faced with the hard realities in the fight against Al Qaeda, embraced military commissions as a practical option for dealing with terrorism suspects.

I was an early supporter of military commissions. As a military lawyer, I was well aware of our courts martial system, and of how commissions have been used throughout our history to dispense battlefield justice when the civilian courts and the trappings of courts martial are unavailable. So. when President Bush issued an order authorizing them, my instinct was not to be overly concerned. But it soon became clear that these commissions would be like no other in our history, playing fast and loose with the law in ways that give military justice a bad name.

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Published on March 29, 2012


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