I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
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To post relevant news items or videos.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

A Timely Debate: Military Detainees, Trials in the News

Attorney General Eric Holder Addresses an Audience
The President Obama of Congressional Simulation 2011 showed a surprise change of position on military detainees for his SOTU address. Given the president's recent movement towards military trials, we were puzzled to hear the president speak out so strongly for civilian trials for all terror suspects. Ultimately, he came around to signing the Military Detainees Procedures Improvement Act of 2011. Today, the real President Obama made a reluctant movement in the same direction on military trials.

Jason Ryan and Huma Khan of ABC News report that five Sept. 11 suspects, including mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators, will be tried by military commission at Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration made it clear that this was not its first choice of action for trying the case.

Attorney General Eric Holder "placed the blame squarely on Congress creating conditions where the Department of Justice cannot try them in a federal court," according to the ABC News reporters. Holder went on to say that their Congress's decision would gravely impact U.S. national security and counterterrorism efforts.

Congress "tied our hands in a away that could have serious ramifications," said Holder. "In reality, I know this case in a way that members of Congress do not. Do I know better than them? Yes."

Our simulation raised some questions about Congress ceding power to the executive, and Holder's comments point to a distinct point about the ways in which Congress can limit the power of the executive. By refusing to appropriate funds to hold Guantanamo inmates on the mainland or cover the expenses of the trial, Congress was able to force the Obama administration's hand on the trials of military detainees.

(Photo credit: RyanJReilly)

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