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Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Crminal Court
Jennifer K. Elsea (au)
Attorney General Holder’s decision to try certain detainees in federal criminal court, including those accused of conspiring to commit the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and to try other detainees by military commission, has focused attention on the procedural differences between trials in federal court and those conducted under the Military Commissions Act, as recently amended. Some who are opposed to the decision argue that bringing detainees to the U.S. for trial poses asecurity threat and risks disclosing classified information, or could result in the acquittal of persons who are guilty. Others have praised the decision as recognizing the efficacy and fairness of the federal court system and have voiced confidence in the courts’ ability to protect national security while achieving justice that will be perceived as such among U.S. allies abroad. Some continue to object to the planned trials of detainees by military commission, despite the amendments Congress enacted as Title XVIII of the National Defense Authorization Act forFY 2010, P.L. 111-84, because they say it demonstrates a less than full commitment to justice or that it casts doubt on the strength of the government’s case against those detainees. This report provides a brief summary of legal issues raised by the choice of forum for tryingaccused terrorists and a table comparing selected military commissions rules under the Military Commissions Act, as amended, to the corresponding rules that apply in federal court.
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