On the Record

Legitimacy Crisis – Military Trials Discussion

Dahlia Lithwick and Benjamin Wittes

Benjamin Wittes of The Brookings Institution joined Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate, to discuss the military tribunals for terrorism detainees at Guantanamo Bay and the legal framework on the War on Terror.

Dahlia Lithwick: Hi, I’m Dahlia Lithwick and welcome to BloggingheadsTV.  I’m very happy to introduce my blogging compatriot today and friend, Benjamin Wittes, who is a fellow and researcher at The Brookings Institution, he writes for the New Republic, he blogs for Slate, and he was an editorial writer for the Washington Post. Hi.

Benjamin Wittes: Hey, and this is from the same room even. I’m Ben Wittes and I’m delighted to introduce the only truly unique voice in American legal journalism. Famed Charlottesville resident and an incredible legal affairs writer for Slate and also for Newsweek and about everywhere else. I guess we’re here to talk about military trials, terrorism, and terrorism laws in general. Starting with Thursday, we’re going to have a big event of sorts. The arraignment of the high valued detainees in front of the military commissions, a special tribunal that was setup under the Military Commissions Act. And at Guantanamo, these high valued detainees are really the people who are believed or many people to be believe to be at the core of the 9/11 conspiracy at least that group that are in custody at this time.

Dahlia: And one of the things that’s really interesting is that the press is being allowed in on that. There’s going to be a big, huge influx of reporters who are going to be able to sit in the courtroom in Guantanamo. They’re going to clap eyes on people like Sheikh Mohammed, you know, one of the alleged architects of 9/11 for the first time. So there’s an enormous drama factor and one of the things that Ben and I wanted to start talking about was where does that drama factor fit into the larger project here which is doing justice here at Guantanamo Bay. So what I wanted start by asking Ben a question, what’s the best possible outcome after years and years of trying to setup a military tribunal system at Guantanamo, we’re actually going to see some real live justice being done presumably. And I wanted to ask your views on what’s the best possible outcome and what’s the worst possible outcome?

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