University of Miami National Security & Armed Conflict Law Review

Document Type



Guantánamo military commissions are under a spotlight, scrutinized by the judiciary and the public. Just the word “Guantánamo” can trigger impassioned reactions from both advocates and detractors. This article takes a measured view, examining a recent opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Hamdan v. United States (“Hamdan II”), that speaks to the legitimacy of military commissions convened in Guantánamo to try the September 11th defendants and others. While several media commentators seized on the opinion as striking a blow to Guantánamo proceedings, in fact the opinion approves military commissions and offers a roadmap for prosecutors. After describing the history of Hamden II, this Article shows how the opinion reaches terrorism cases in both military commissions and federal courts.