Restarting Flawed Military Commissions Will Endanger National Security

Proceedings betray American values and legal traditions, says Constitution Project

CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

WASHINGTON – The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing this afternoon to examine the legal implications of reforming the military commission system for trials of suspected terrorists. In May, President Obama announced his plan to revive the military commissions for a number of detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. Although the Constitution Project welcomes Congress’ efforts to evaluate this crucial policy matter carefully, the Project urges Congress to ultimately reject this dangerous proposal.

The panel of witnesses that will testify before the Housed Armed Service comprises current judge advocates general and staff judge advocates from the four branches of the United States military. A substantial number of other prominent military and counterterrorism officials and experts have voiced their opposition to reinstating the military commissions. These individuals have highlighted the significant national security costs and damage to our international credibility that would accompany the creation of a revised military commission scheme.

The following is an excerpt from a statement opposing military commissions issued by Stephen Abraham, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army and member of the Constitution Project’s Liberty and Security Committee. Speaking as an individual, Lieutenant Colonel Abraham says:

“I have witnessed firsthand military proceedings purporting to satisfy fundamental rights embodied in our Constitution…Military commissions are an unacceptable substitute for our federal courts that have demonstrated time and again that they can handle such cases as these without diminishing our national security or shared values. Are we so weary – or fearful – of the institutions upon which our Nation’s heritage has been established that we would so easily discard them?”

Click here to see the full text of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Abraham’s statement opposing the revival of military commissions.

Click here to see a compilation of statements from military leaders, prosecutors and national security authorities on the danger of using military commissions to try suspected terrorists.

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