The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Military Commissions Act Amendments Head to Obama for Signature

Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 08:00 | Oct 23, 2009 20:09
Henry Hamer

This post has been corrected. Previously, the post was incorrectly based on an earlier version of the bill.

The Military Commissions Act amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (H.R. 2647) were approved in Congress yesterday and are en route to the President for his signature. The full text of the bill is here.

Interestingly, despite the President’s statements and other indications that the Obama administration prefers Article III civilian federal courts to try terrorism cases, the new Military Commissions Act seems to favor trials in military commissions for “unprivileged enemy belligerents” (previously known as “enemy combatants”), who make up the bulk of detainees at Guantanamo Bay not yet cleared for release, by keeping the commissions’ jurisdiction over them broad. Attempts at narrowing who is subject to military commission jurisdiction failed.

Significantly, however, the final bill dropped an earlier provision, which explicitly stated that it is the “sense of Congress” that military commissions are “the preferred forum for the trial of alien unprivileged enemy belligerents”.

Henry Hamer | I'm currently working for Google's Chrome team in Munich, Germany, as a developer advocate. I was a member of the team responsible for the online presence of, one of Germany's largest daily newspapers, from January 2010 to November 2011. I used to work for Yahoo! on their similarly massive European news pages before joining Sueddeutsche. I've concentrated my efforts on the internet, which has turned out to be a fantastic decision.


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