Detention & Guantanamo

Matthew Waxman on Detention Policy Lessons Learned

By Benjamin Wittes
Monday, August 29, 2011, 7:39 AM

Over at the Council on Foreign Relations web site, Matthew Waxman offers a brief essay on lessons learned on detention policy from the last ten years:

An important lesson since the 9/11 attacks is that detention decisions and practices have legal, political, diplomatic, operational, and other ripple effects across many aspects of counterterrorism policy, and across U.S. foreign policy more broadly. Those concerned that the United States is too aggressive in its detention policy should beware that constraining this tool adds pressure to rely on other tools, including lethal drone strikes or proxy detention by other governments. Those concerned that the United States is not aggressive enough should beware that dogged resistance to criminal prosecution and failure to seriously address opponents' domestic and international legal concerns threatens the long-term stability of terrorist detention programs. It also undermines critically important counterterrorism partnerships with allies abroad, with whom legal disagreements can inhibit exchanges of information, prisoner transfers, and other cooperation.