Terrorism Trials: Military Commissions

Petitioner's Supplemental Brief in Al-Bahlul

By Wells Bennett
Monday, December 10, 2012, 2:43 PM

[UPDATED 3:18 p.m.] Lawyers for military commission accused Ali Hamza Suliman Ahmad Al-Bahlul have filed their supplemental, what-do-we-make-of-Hamdan brief with the D.C. Circuit.  The government's response is due on January 9 of next year; the accused's reply is due on January 22.

Here's a taste, from the filing's "summary of argument" section:

Military commissions are special tribunals with narrow subject-matter jurisdiction. A military commission convicted Mr. Bahlul of material support for terrorism, solicitation and conspiracy. The parties agree that none of those offenses is a war crime under customary international law. The parties disagreed over whether a military commission could exercise jurisdiction over crimes other than international law of war crimes. The government argued that they could. Mr. Bahlul argued that they could not.

In Hamdan v. United States, 696 F.3d 1238 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (“Hamdan II”), this Court reaffirmed that for a pre-2006 offense to be lawfully brought before a military commission, it must be “firmly grounded in international law.” Id. at 1250 n.10. Because none of the charges against Mr. Bahlul were grounded in international law, the commission judgment in this case must be vacated.