The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

Constitution Project Warns Against Revival of Failed Military Commissions

Applauds Congress for holding hearings to scrutinize legal shortcomings


The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing this
morning to examine the legal issues surrounding military commissions
and trials of suspected terrorists already in United States custody. In
May, President Obama announced his intention to revive the military
commissions for a select group of detainees being held at Guantanamo
Bay. Although the Constitution Project welcomes Congress' efforts to
evaluate this crucial policy matter carefully, the Project urges
members of Congress to ultimately reject this fundamentally flawed

In June, the Constitution Project joined a
coalition letter requesting full public hearings before any vote on
legislation to revise the Military Commissions Act. The Armed Services
Committee has recognized the importance of open hearings on this
matter, and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil
Rights, and Civil Liberties is scheduled to examine the issue tomorrow.

The following can be attributed to Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project:

before and after 9/11, our federal courts have proven their ability to
handle the most difficult terrorism prosecutions without sacrificing
either the nation's safety or the defendant's right to a fair trial.
Restarting the failed military commission system would wrongfully
ignore our established institutions of justice in favor of a second
class, tainted system. Both as a matter of law and policy, relying on a
lesser level of justice is misguided. The proposed changes to improve
evidentiary standards and due process protections are too little too
late, and cannot transform the commissions into a legitimate forum for
prosecuting detainees.

"It is troubling that President Obama,
who voted against the Military Commissions Act when he was in the
Senate, has called for the system's reinstatement. Congress now has the
responsibility to reject any proposals to do so and ensure that we do
not repeat the mistakes of the recent past. This week's hearings are
important first steps in reexamining the dire consequences of reviving
the military commission system and demonstrating how reliance upon our
traditional federal courts can both protect our national security and
uphold American values."

To see the letter urging Congress to
hold full and open hearings signed by 23 advocacy organizations,
including the Constitution Project, go to:

The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at