U.S. Policy in the Wake of 9/11: Military Commissions Act of 2006
Passed in direct response to the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 overturned the Supreme Court's decision and created a new law that allowed the government to file fresh charges against Salim Hamdan.
According to the Center For Constitutional Rights, Congress authorized the use of military commissions established by presidential order, while also suspending the right to habeas corpus, creating a broad definition of "unlawful enemy combatant," granting U.S. officials immunity for abuse and torture, permitting the use of secret evidence and allowing the use of statements obtained through coercion in prosecutions. Hamdan was the first person to stand trial under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
After Hamdan's trial, President Barack Obama signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2009, which was an attempt to reform the military commissions system created under the Bush administration. While the new system offers detainees greater due process rights, it still contains provisions that fall short of providing detainees access to a trial in civilian courts. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states that the new commissions under Obama remain "a second class system of justice." Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project, writes, "The commissions remain not only illegal but unnecessary — the federal courts have proven themselves capable of handling complex terrorism cases while protecting both the government's national security interests and the defendants' rights to a fair trial.
» American Civil Liberties Union. "President Obama Signs Military Commissions Changes Into Law."
» Center for Constitutional Rights. "Factsheet: Military Commissions."
Credit: Paul Morse