Retired Rear Admiral Hutson to Senate Armed Services Committee: Repeal, Don’t Improve, Military Commissions

HRF Board Member, and member of our coalition of retired military leaders, John Hutson gave testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, explaining why he went from an ardent supporter of military commissions to a starch opponent.

He says it very simply: “We don’t ask DoJ [Department of Justice] to fight wars. We shouldn’t ask DoD [Department of Defense] to prosecute terrorists,” and compares military vs. criminal justice with a compelling example:

If a sailor on a ship is alleged to have committed a crime, we must
expeditiously and fairly resolve that problem. Otherwise, it can fester
and interfere with unit cohesion and impede an effective fighting force.
The UCMJ and the Manual for Courts Martial serve that purpose alone. They solve
problems for the Armed Forces; not create them. Our recent history with
military commissions has been the opposite. I’ve come to realize that even
a perfect commission regime would be a distraction for the military. It’s
simply not part of its mission. I am very concerned when the military is
called upon to perform functions outside of its core mission even when I’m
confident that it can do it well. Preserving and ensuring justice in the
United States is the primary mission of the Department of Justice, not the
Department of Defense.

He describes in detail why the federal courts – not military commissions – are the answer. Check it out!

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Published on July 9, 2009

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