Banks, Baker Serve on ABA Military Commissions Workshop, Report Published

Posted on Wednesday 5/9/2018
Guantanamo Bay

On Dec. 7, 2017, INSCT Founding Director William C. Banks and incoming Director the Hon. James E. Baker joined colleagues on the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security (ABA SCOLANS) for a one-day workshop investigating law and policy related to the military commissions at the US Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Workshop Report—The US Military Commissions: Looking Forward—has been published and is available from ABA SCOLANS.

Co-convened by George Washington University Law School, the purpose of the workshop was to provide a forum for expert discussion of issues that face the US military commissions. The commissions were first authorized by President George W. Bush in a Military Order in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and subsequently by the Military Commissions Acts of 2006 and 2009. Forty-one detainees are currently held at Guantanamo Bay. On Jan. 30, 2018, President Donald J. Trump's Executive Order "Protecting America Through Lawful Detention of Terrorists" allows the US to transport additional detainees to Guantanamo Bay "when lawful and necessary to protect the Nation.” 

The workshop's four sessions addressed:

  1. An overview of the military commissions at Guantanamo.
  2. Legal questions related to existing detainees not charged before the commissions.
  3. Legal issues that could arise if new detainees were brought to Guantanamo.
  4. The implications for the commissions posed by a new authorization to use military force.

Workshop rapporteurs were Judge Baker, who will succeed Banks as INSCT Director in July 2018, and Professor Laura Dickinson of George Washington University Law School. The workshop's non-partisan report is intended to inform policymakers, commentators, and the public on possible paths forward in the interest of US national security, law, and justice.

"The group assembled by ABA SCOLANS brought together scholars and practitioners in the US who are most knowledgeable about the Commissions and who are in the best position to think clearly and positively about reforms that could set the Commissions on a path toward achieving their goal of justice in individual cases," says Banks. 

Among the prominent national security scholars joining Banks and Baker at the workshop were Geoffrey Corn of South Texas College of Law, Jennifer Daskal of American University Washington College of Law, Ryan Goodman of NYU Law School, Andrea Harrison of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Robert Litt of Morrison & Foerster, and Steve Vladeck of University of Texas Law School.