So … What Constitutional Rights Are Defendants Entitled to in Military Commissions?
One of the donut holes in last week’s testimony from Justice and Defense Department officials about the Obama administration’s planning for military commissions came in identifying the constitutional protections the administration thinks defendants before the military commissions are entitled to receive. David Kris, the Justice Department’s national security chief, made the issue more about due process requirements than substantive rights in a colloquy with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). But last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the acting chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, David Barron, sent a memorandum to the administration’s detainee task force about rights protections that detainees might legally claim. Alas, the memo is confidential.
That typically doesn’t deter the ACLU, and today the civil liberties group filed a suit to obtain Barron’s memo. From a statement:
“The Obama administration’s continued support of the failed military commission system is at the center of much public attention and controversy,” said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “The release of the OLC memo on detainee rights would help to clarify this administration’s position on military commissions and deepen the public’s understanding of this important issue.”