Sunday, September 16, 2007

Meeting on national security court and administrative detention policy - planning but no date set yet!

I have been gratified but also slightly frightened by the overwhelmingly positive comments people have made when I mentioned a while back that I was thinking of organizing a meeting or some kind of conference on the idea of a national security court and a policy of civilianized administrative detention to replace the current military commissions arrangement. As far as I can tell, Jack Goldsmith and Neal Katyal's NYT op ed galvanized discussion on the idea, both for and against. It has been under discussion in several places for some time preceding that op ed - if you go back in this blog, I think I list some of the authors and articles, including Ben Wittes and me.

It has also raised discussion about why it would be a bad idea, with the primary objection being the question - largely raised by the rights advocacy groups and academics - why go that direction rather than the regular criminal justice system. Create more crimes to deal with terrorism - I think this is the current version of this view - primarily in the "inchoate" crimes area, versions of conspiracy, material support, etc., and it should be possible to obtain criminal convictions without having to go the route of a special court and scheme of administrative detention outside of "regular"criminal law.

Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institution and I indeed have a goal of organizing something on these topics. (Read Ben's Policy Review piece here.) We are hoping but - don't put this in your calendars yet, please! - to aim for a date in late January or early February in DC at my law school. It would be a one day event, morning into early afternoon, with a couple of panels. We have no money, so have no ability to offer travel etc. to anyone. If we offered it for CLE credit and opened it to the public, we might be able to come up with money for sandwiches for lunch. We would certainly hope to get Jack and Neal to participate and indeed lead off - they don't know about this idea yet, however.

We'll keep you posted on whether we are able to pull something together on this. It's certainly our intention to do so.