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TIPSHEET: Vanderbilt legal and military expert can talk about military commissions

Mar. 9, 2010, 10:12 AM

President Obama is now debating whether to have the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, prosecuted in a military tribunal, despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s plan to try Mohammed in civilian court.

Vanderbilt law professor Michael Newton is an expert on military commissions. He helped revamp the laws and procedures for U.S. military commissions and just published a paper on the subject. (Click here to read “Observations on the Future of U.S. Military Commissions.”)

“Military commissions remain a valid, if unwieldy, tool,” said Newton. “The military commissions are not the charade of justice created by an over-powerful and unaccountable chief executive that critics predicted.”

“The synergistic efforts of the judicial, legislative and executive branches makes the current military commissions lawful and without question ‘established by law’ as required by international norms.”

Newton helped establish the Iraqi Special Tribunal and led the training in international criminal law for its judges, including holding sessions in Baghdad. He still advises the tribunal and is part of the academic consortium supporting it. He served in the Office of War Crimes Issues at the U.S. Department of State and was one of two U.S. delegates who negotiated the Elements of Crimes document for the International Criminal Court. He also coordinated the interface between the FBI and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and deployed into Kosovo to do forensics fieldwork to support the Milosevic indictment.

Media Contact: Amy Wolf, (615) 322-NEWS
amy.wolf@vanderbilt.edu

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