In 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate an explosive device on a plane landing in Detroit on Christmas Day. The attack was unsuccessful, but it spurred an important domestic debate regarding U.S. anti-terrorist programs and policies. In particular, the event fueled an argument over the proper forum for the interrogation and prosecution of terrorist suspects captured in the United States. Focusing on national security issues, some contended that treating Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant in an Article III court, rather than subjecting him to a military commission, was imprudent and dangerous, while others insisted that it was entirely appropriate and responsible. This Note will probe this debate by comparing the two tribunals as each relates to the legal protections for suspects during interrogation. The Note argues that although some differences do exist, it is quite plausible that treating Abdulmutallab and other captured terrorist suspects as criminal defendants in Article III court does not adversely impact intelligence gathering and national security.
Military Commissions, Criminal Court, and the Christmas Day Bomber,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.