The National Security Court System: A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror

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The recent Boumediene v. Bush decision, which tossed aside the dysfunctional military court system envisioned by the Bush administration and upheld the right of habeas corpus for detainees, promises to throw national security law into chaos, and will also probably lead to the closing of Guantanamo. In this timely and much-needed book, Glenn Sulmasy, one of America's leading experts on national security law, opens with a much-needed history of America's long and complicated experience with such courts since the early days of the Republic. After tracing their evolution in the contemporary era, Sulmasy argues for a more sensible approach to the global war on terror's unique set of prisoners. He proposes a reasonable "third way" solution that avoids even more extreme measures, on the one hand, and a complete shuttering of the court system, on the other. Instead, he advocates creating a separate standing judicial system, overseen by civilian judges, that allows for habeas corpus appeals and which focuses exclusively on existing war-on-terror cases as well as the inevitable cases to come. For all those who want to explore the crucial legal issues behind the headlines about Gitmo and the rights of detainees, The National Security Court System offers a clear-headed assessment of where we are and where we ought to be going.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The National Security Court System is a recommended read for anyone interested in getting a clear and concise juridical overview of the detainee dilemma and why the current juridical approaches will most likely continue to be ineffective. Although it remains a very highly politicized issue, Sulmasy presents his third way solution in a cogent, documented, and straight-forward manner, devoid of partisan rhetoric, and readily acknowledges the contribution others have made to its development."—American Review of Politics

"A solid argument...Summing Up: Recommended."—CHOICE

"Sulmasy has performed a tremendous service to those who truly seek to understand the history of military commissions and who want to understand fully the policy choices in front of us. One can only hope that someone with a hand in formulating policy will listen to him."—Engage: The Journal of the Federalist Society's Practice Groups

"Sulmasy traces the evolution of military commissions in the United States and outlines a way forward after closing Guantanamo. His pragmatic approach explores merging military and civilian law into a hybrid system of justice for individuals captured in the struggle against global terrorism. This is a must read for understanding how the American justice system detoured into GITMO and where it might go from here in addressing real threats without undermining American values."—Sarah Sewall, Harvard University

"Sulmasy's pragmatic, nonpartisan, and results-focused study of the legal history of military commissions and their use, and his proposal for a national security court system, is a valuable addition to the debate surrounding these complex issues."—International Law and Politics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195379815
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Glenn Sulmasy is a National Security and Human Rights Fellow, Harvard University, and Professor of Law, Commander and Judge Advocate, U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

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Table of Contents

1. The Original Intent of Military Commissions
2. Military Commissions in U.S. History
3. The Second World War Military Commision - Ex Parte Quirin, et al
4. The War on al Qaeda and the Military Order of November 13, 2001
5. Hamdan and the Military COmmissions Act of 2006
6. The Legal Landscape After oumediene
7. The National Security Court System

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A must read; the perfect primer on the subject

    The National Security Court System is a wonderfully concise primer on national security law and the history of military commissions. Professor Sulmasy peppers his text with frequent references to the works of his intellectual allies and opponents alike, offering the reader the perfect jumping-off point for further reading from scholars on all sides of the ideological spectrum. Displaying keen insight and impeccable transparency, the author argues his case for a new National Security Court convincingly, while at the same time presenting opposing viewpoints and acknowledging the potential drawbacks of his plan. Readers of this book will gain critical historical perspective on the use of military commissions in America from the days of the Founding Fathers to the Bush presidency. The National Security Court System will challenge your assumptions and invites us to move beyond rhetoric and political grandstanding in order to solve one of the most important questions of justice of our time.

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