The Corner

Koh vs. Obama Administration on Military Commissions

Today’s Washington Post reports: “The Obama administration is preparing to revive the system of military commissions established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections, government officials said.”

But State Department legal adviser nominee Harold Koh has maintained that no set of modifications to the rules governing military commissions can “dispel[] the fatal global perception of unfairness” that he believes they suffer from:   

Even if, through tinkering, the Defense Department’s regulations could ensure that military commissions will operate more fairly in fact, they will never be perceived as fair by those skeptical of their political purpose, namely, the very Muslim nations whose continuing support the United States needs to maintain its durable coalition against terrorism.

(Koh, “The Case Against Military Commissions,” 96 Am. J. Int’l L. 337, 342 (2002).)

Is Koh ready and willing to make the case for a revised system of military commissions?  If not, why would President Obama have him serve as the State Department’s top lawyer? 

(By the way, my primary posts on the Koh nomination are collected, and organized for easy reading, at www.eppc.org/koh.) 

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