NBC News published this Department of Justice confidential white paper on February 5, 2013, which outlines the legal framework that would allow the U.S. government to "use lethal force in a foreign country" against a U.S. citizen highly involved with al-Qaeda or its associates. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators requested all classified documents related to the legality of targeted killings of Americans be released.
This Congressional Reseach Service report briefly summarizes the legal issues raised by the choice of forum for trying accused terrorists, and provides a chart comparing selected military commissions rules under the Military Commissions Act to the corresponding rules that apply in federal court.
Guantanamo Bay, where hundreds of terror suspects have been detained since 9/11, has underscored the need for flexibility and careful balancing in detainee policy to confront twenty-first-century threats, writes CFR's Matthew Waxman.
Tim Starks and Seth Stern of Congressional Quarterly argue that after nearly a full decade into the war on terrorism the United States still lacks a legal framework for what is widely seen as the top national security threat of the modern era.
The Ghailani verdict focuses renewed attention on the debate over how to detain and prosecute terrorism suspects, which will persist until the Obama administration comes up with a firm policy, says CFR's Matthew Waxman.
The Supreme Court's upholding of bans on "material support" for foreign terror groups, even involving legal activities, reflects a further post-9/11 broadening of federal powers, writes CFR's Matthew C. Waxman.
The Times Square bomb plot has triggered questions about when and whether suspect Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born American citizen, should have been informed of his Miranda rights. These questions are likely to gain traction in the weeks ahead, says expert Matthew C. Waxman, who believes it would be wrong to treat all captured terrorists as enemy combatants subject to military trial.
Authors: Benn Steil and Peter J. Wallison Foreign Policy
Benn Steil and Peter Wallison argue that trying alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before the military commission established by Congress is better than the Obama administration pretending that it accepts the legal implications of acquittal by a civilian court.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.