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Important Gitmo Ruling Leaves Future of Military Commissions Uncertain, Say Attorneys

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Court Conclusively Finds Material Support Not a War Crime

press@ccrjustice.org

July 14, 2014, Washington, D.C. – In response to today’s en banc ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals in Al-Bahlul v. United States, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

Today’s Court of Appeals ruling defers resolving important questions — Can conspiracy charges be tried by military commission? Is domestic law relevant to that decision? — to a future case. But the five separate opinions, totaling 150 pages, are entirely clear on one point: all seven judges agreed that material support for terrorism is not a war crime triable by military commission, even for a defendant who forfeited his defenses at trial. That decision mandates that our client David Hicks’s conviction for material support, pending on appeal before the Court of Military Commission Review, be vacated. Today’s ruling is a reminder that a military commission prosecution or conviction can unravel at any time. 
 
The court merely deferred the inevitable by failing to recognize that conspiracy is no more appropriately tried in a military commission than material support. We urge the Supreme Court to review today’s ruling regarding conspiracy and dispense with all fabricated war crimes charges once and for all.
 
The Center for Constitutional Rights represents Australian David Hicks, convicted of a sole count of material support by a military commission at Guantanamo, whose appeal seeking to have his conviction overturned has been stayed pending today’s D.C. Circuit decision.
 
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for more than 12 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that nearly all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.