American Judges Association


Date of this Version

Fall 2006


Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 43:3. Copyright © 2006 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission.


On a clear, blue September morning in 2001, nineteen men hijacked four commercial airplanes headed toward the West Coast. They crashed two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon in Northern Virginia, and one into a Pennsylvania field. In the wake of the shocking attack, Congress authorized President Bush to use military force against those who committed the attack, commencing a “war on terror” that still rages today.

The government has fought the “war on terror” on many fronts. The military is engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq; diplomatic overtures have been made to Libya and Pakistan; domestic security is tighter; and safety procedures and citizen values have changed, perhaps permanently. American spies gather intelligence all over the globe while even conversations by United States citizens are monitored by the National Security Agency for their content. During the course of the “war on terror,” the United States military and the executive branch have declared hundreds of individuals to be “unlawful enemy combatants.” One of these individuals is an American citizen captured overseas, and one is an American citizen captured at an airport in Chicago.

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