United States Court of Military Commission Review

United States Court of Military Commission Review

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 mandated that rulings from the Guantanamo military commissions could be appealed to a Court of Military Commission Review, which would sit in Washington D.C..[1][2][3][4]

In the event, the Review Court was not ready when it was first needed.[1] Peter Brownback and Keith J. Allred, the officers appointed to serve as Presiding Officers in the Military Commissions that charged Omar Khadr and Salim Ahmed Hamdan dismissed the charges against the two men because the Military Commissions Act only authorized the commissions to try "unlawful enemy combatants".[2][5][5][6] Khadr and Hamdan, like 570 other Guantanamo captives had merely been confirmed to be "enemy combatants".

The Court of Military Commission Review ruled that Presiding Officers were, themselves, authorized to rule whether suspects were "illegal enemy combatant".[7][8][9]



Swearing in judges on the Court of Military Commission Review.[2] John Rolph swears in Paul Holden, Dawn Scholz, Steven Walburn, Amy Bechtold, Steven Thompson, Lisa Schenck, and Eric Geiser.

To be eligible for a seat on the Court of Military Commission Review, candidates must currently be serving as a judge on one of the following courts: the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, or the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.

Current judges on the panel include:[10]

  • Colonel Barbara Brand, USAF
  • Colonel David Conn, USA
  • Colonel Theresa Gallagher, USA
  • Colonel Ronald Gregory, USAF
  • Colonel William Orr, Jr., USAF
  • Colonel Joseph Perlak, USMC
  • Captain Eric Price, USN
  • Colonel Martin Sims, USA

Former judges include:

United States v. Mohammed Jawad

Stephen R. Henley the Presiding Officer in United States v. Mohamed Jawad had ruled that evidence that was the result of torture could not be used.[12] On February 9, 2009, three judges from the Court, Frank J. Williams, Dan O’Toole, and D. Francis were empaneled to consider whether they should comply with the President's Executive Order halting all their proceedings.[11]


On January 22, 2009, United States President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13492 ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, within one year.[13] That order halted all proceedings before the Court of Military Commission Review.

Appeal of the verdict of Ali Al Bahlul's military commission

Carol Rosenberg, writing in the Miami Herald, reported that Ali Al Bahlul's military defense attorneys filed a fifty page appeal of his sentence on free speech grounds on September 2, 2009.[14][15] They claimed his production of al Qaeda propaganda material was protected by the first amendment of the United States Constitution.

"Mr. al Bahlul is not a sympathetic defendant. He embraces an ideology that glorifies violence, justifies terrorism and opposes constitutional democracy. As offensive as it may be, [Bahlul's film work] is speech that falls within the core protections of the First Amendment, which forbids the prosecution of `the thoughts, the beliefs, the ideals of the accused."

Three of the Court's judges assembled on January 26, 2010 to hear oral arguments.[16] Following that, the CMCR determined to proceed with the case en banc and held a hearing on March 16, 2011.[17] The CMCR issued an opinion on September 9, 2011, that upheld al Bahlul's conviction.[18]

Salim Hamdan's appeal

Attorney's working on behalf of Salim Hamdan have appealed his conviction, and oral arguments were heard on January 26, 2010.[16] Hamdan has already finished serving his sentence.

Replacement proposal

Carol Rosenberg, writing in the Miami Herald, reported that the Obama Presidency has proposed a change in where appeals of the rulings and verdicts of military commissions would be heard.[14] The proposed changes would have them first heard by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which Rosenberg noted was a 58-year-old institution. In the current set-up there is no appeal to rulings of the Court of Military Commission Review. Under the proposed changes appeals could be taken to the United States Supreme Court.


  1. ^ a b Matt Apuzzo (August 22, 2007). "Growing Pains for Terror Appeals Court". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/22/AR2007082201633.html. Retrieved 2007-08-22. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Jason Jones. "Navy Judges Lend Expertise to the Court of Military Commission Review" (PDF). http://www.jag.navy.mil/JAGMAG/Winter_Navy%20Judges%20Lend%20Expertise%20to%20the%20Court%20of%20Military%20Commission%20Review.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-11. [dead link] mirror
  3. ^ a b c d "Military Commission Review Panel Takes Oath of Office". Department of Defense. 2004-09-22. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=25238. Retrieved 2008-11-02.  mirror
  4. ^ "Q&A: Guantanamo detentions". BBC News. 2009-01-22. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5134328.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  5. ^ a b Sergeant Sara Wood (June 4, 2007). "Charges Dismissed Against Canadian at Guantanamo". Department of Defense. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=46281. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  6. ^ Sergeant Sara Wood (June 4, 2007). "Judge Dismisses Charges Against Second Guantanamo Detainee". Department of Defense. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=46288. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  7. ^ Matt Apuzzo (2007-08-24). "White House Defends US Terror Tribunals". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/24/AR2007082401049.html. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  8. ^ "A new court for Gitmo". Court Artist. 2007-08-25. Archived from the original on 2009-05-30. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.courtartist.com%2F2007%2F08%2Fa-new-court-for.html&date=2009-05-30. 
  9. ^ "Factsheet: Military Commissions". Center for Constitutional Rights. Archived from the original on 2009-05-30. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fccrjustice.org%2Flearn-more%2Ffaqs%2Ffactsheet%3A-military-commissions&date=2009-05-30. 
  10. ^ "Judges U.S. Court of Military Commission Review1". PDF. http://www.mc.mil/Portals/0/Judges%20Assigned%20to%20USCMCR%20as%20of%20Oct.%2011,%202011.pdf. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "UNITED STATES COURT OF MILITARY COMMISSION REVIEW Before F. Williams, D. Francis, and D. O'Toole". United States Department of Justice. 2009-02-09. Archived from the original on 2009-05-30. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.scotusblog.com%2Fwp%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2009%2F02%2Fcmcr-stay-order-2-4-09.pdf&date=2009-05-30. 
  12. ^ "U.S. court hears arguments over young detainee's confession". CBC News. 2009-01-13. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/01/13/jawad.html. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  13. ^ "EXECUTIVE ORDER -- REVIEW AND DISPOSITION OF INDIVIDUALS DETAINED AT THE GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE AND CLOSURE OF DETENTION FACILITIES". The White House. 2009-01-22. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/closureofguantanamodetentionfacilities/. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  14. ^ a b Carol Rosenberg (2009-09-02). "Bin Laden aide's Gitmo conviction appealed". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2009-09-02. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.miamiherald.com%2Fnews%2Fnation%2Fstory%2F1214739.html&date=2009-09-02. 
  15. ^ Michel Paradis, Todd E. Pierce, Katherine Doxakis, Scott Medlyn (2009-09-01). "Brief on behalf of appellant: CMCR Case no. 09-001". Department of Defense. Archived from the original on 2009-09-02. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fmedia.miamiherald.com%2Fsmedia%2F2009%2F09%2F02%2F14%2FUnited_States_v._al_Bahlul_-_Brief_for_Appellant__1_September_2009_.source.prod_affiliate.56.pdf&date=2009-09-02. 
  16. ^ a b "US Military Panel Hears 1st Guantanamo Appeal". Voice of America. 2010-01-26. http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/US-Military-Panel-Hears-1st--Guantanamo-Appeal-82696517.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  17. ^ "Summary of Arguments in the Government’s Briefs in al-Bahlul and Hamdan". Lawfare. 2011-03-16. http://www.lawfareblog.com/2011/03/summary-of-arguments-in-the-governments-briefs-in-al-bahlul-and-hamdan/. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  18. ^ "Panel upholds Al Qaida filmmaker’s life sentence". Miami Herald. 2011-09-10. http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/09/2399378/military-court-upholds-al-qaida.html. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 

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