Benjamin Wittes

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de Marzo de 2008. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the hand-wringing is in high gear. There have been op-eds by former detainees, a statement by retired military personnel, denunciations of President Obama for his failure to close the site and tear-stained statements by human rights groups.

In a decade of policy experimentation at Guantanamo, some efforts have succeeded, some have failed tragically and some are still in process. But far more interesting than the past 10 years is what the next 10 will look like. And that subject seems oddly absent from the current conversation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Here’s a simple proposal to break the impasse over how to proceed against Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his colleagues: Press charges in both military commissions and in federal court. Call it the John Allen Muhammad model.

The 2002 D.C. area sniper case is strangely instructive in planning the trials of the Sept. 11 plotters. Recall that when Muhammad and accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo were captured, several of the jurisdictions in which they had killed people filed charges. Virginia authorities were allowed to proceed first and given custody, but the other jurisdictions held their cases in reserve. Maryland prosecutors pursued their case even after Muhammad and Malvo were convicted in Virginia.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Obama administration and its critics are locked in a standoff over whether to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other alleged Sept. 11 conspirators in a military commission or in federal court. Both sides are busily ignoring the obvious solution: Don’t bother trying them at all.

Mohammed has already spent more than seven years in military detention. Both the Obama administration and the Republicans who object to trying him in federal court accept the legitimacy of such detention as a traditional incident of war for those in the command structure of al-Qaeda, and perhaps for associated forces as well. In general outline, so do the courts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates came into office wanting to close the American detention operation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Nearly two years later, Guantanamo is still there. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she wants to close it. Guantanamo will outlast her. Yet, to watch the post-election Democratic triumphalism, you’d think that Guantanamo is as good as shuttered. President-elect Barack Obama has reiterated his campaign promise to close it, and some self-described advisers talk as though he’ll wave a magic wand on Jan. 20 and a problem that has bedeviled this country for seven years will evaporate.

Closing Guantanamo won’t be easy, at least not if Obama means to change the substance of American detention policy rather than merely altering its geography.…  Seguir leyendo »

The key words in Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s Guantanamo opinion do not involve the history of habeas corpus, the territorial status of Guantanamo Bay or the accountability of the executive branch to the rule of law. They appear on the opinion’s penultimate page and are unlikely to attract much attention amid the chatter the decision has already generated. «[O]ur opinion does not address the content of the law that governs petitioners’ detention,» Kennedy wrote. «That is a matter yet to be determined.»

Yes, habeas corpus has been grandly re-established at Guantanamo. But, as the court majority made clear in this brief passage, that does not mean the government is holding a single person illegally at the base.…  Seguir leyendo »