Skip to main content
Past Event

Terrorists and Detainees: Do We Need a New National Security Court?

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the capture of hundreds of suspected al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, we have been engaged in a national debate as to the proper standards and procedures for detaining “enemy combatants” and prosecuting them for war crimes. Dissatisfaction with the procedures established at Guantanamo for detention decisions and trials of detainees for war crimes by military commissions, and concerns about the feasibility of conducting major terrorism trials in regular Article III courts, have led to proposals to establish a special National Security Court.

This new court, which would have greater flexibility to conduct non-public proceedings than do the regular federal courts, could make or review status and detention decisions and/or conduct trials of suspected terrorists. The conference will discuss the pros and cons of establishing such a new federal court, and what jurisdiction should be assigned to such a court.


Welcoming Remarks

Panel 1: War or Crime? The Legal Framework for Detaining and Prosecuting Enemy Combatants


John B. Bellinger III

Partner in the international and national security law practices at Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, D.C.



Kenneth Anderson

Former Brookings Expert

Professor of Law, Washington College of Law - American University

Lunch with Keynote Speaker

Panel 2: A National Security Court for Detention Decisions


David Cole

Professor, Georgetown University Law Center

Panel 3: A National Security Court for Terrorist Crimes

James Baker

Former Brookings Expert

Former General Counsel - FBI

Director of National Security and Cybersecurity - R Street Institute


Andrew Patel

private criminal defense lawyer who has represented a number of terrorist suspects, including Jose Padilla

More Information

Office of Special Events & Continuing Legal Education, American University Washington College of Law

To subscribe or manage your subscriptions to our top event topic lists, please visit our event topics page.

Get a weekly events calendar from Brookings