News Release

Flawed and Unjust Guantanamo Military Commissions Exposed Again

Washington, DC (October 16, 2012) – A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today overturned the conviction for material support for terrorism of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden. As explained by the Court, “[b]ecause we read the Military Commissions Act not to retroactively punish new crimes, and because material support for terrorism was not a pre-existing war crime under 10 U.S.C. § 821, Hamdan’s conviction for material support for terrorism cannot stand.” And this is certainly not the first time a federal appellate court has had to remind the military that there are constitutional limits to its legal authority, even at Guantanamo.

“The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has maintained for over a decade that the Guantanamo military commissions are fundamentally flawed and violate American constitutional principles of fairness and due process. Once again, the commissions have been exposed as vulnerable to government excess and abuse. Today’s decision by a panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, in its rejection of Hamdan’s conviction, reminds Americans of the value and importance of the rule of law in our society and system of justice,” said NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin.

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Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.