At JNSLP’s Feb. 11, 2015 symposium on “Trials and Terrorism: The Implications of Trying National Security Cases in Article III Courts,” an expert panel was convened to discuss trends in sentencing considerations in Article III terrorism prosecutions, and what the implications for these cases portend for american foreign policy. The panel consisted of a judge, a government official and former prosecutor, academics, and sentencing experts.
The Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan draws on his voluminous experience on the federal bench to illuminate some of the special concerns that attend terrorism and national security cases. Kaplan reviews several judicial challenges unique to terrorism cases, including classified information issues and the use of defendants’ statements in the course of prosecution. He concludes that Article III courts not only are capable of trying such cases, but they are the forum most consistent with our American values of fairness and transparency.
Meyer and Berenbaum analyze the national security policy challenge in balancing protections for Intelligence Community whistleblowers and the government’s legitimate need for secrecy in order to execute the federal intelligence and counterintelligence mission. It is that need for secrecy that creates the intellectual distance between the sovereign’s requirement for information regarding the performance of the federal intelligence and counterintelligence mission and the ability to conduct that mission.
Schmitt and Widmar explore the law of targeting within international humanitarian law (IHL) and its application to international and non-international armed conflict. The article examines the “five elements” of a target operation, including the target, the weapon used, the execution of the attack, possible collateral damage and incidental injury, and location of the strike. The authors suggest that a better understanding of these norms can help international lawyers, policymakers, and operators avoid violations of international law by creating appropriate and well-known boundaries for targeting operations.
Abrams seeks to move the discussion on Guantanamo detainees forward by bringing law-of-war detention and criminal prosecution into closer alignment. The article analyzes the Obama Administration’s current approach of dealing with terrorists captured abroad and its preference for conducting criminal prosecutions whenever feasible. Abrams proposes several changes to the current system, including a decision-making framework for imposing further military detention after completion of the criminal process, which the administration has indicated is a possibility, and taking into account the criminal culpability of the detainee to impose a presumptive limit on indefinite detention, as ways to reform the two-track system and increase equality accordingly.