Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1570995
 


 



Beyond the Court of Public Opinion: Military Commissions and the Reputational Pull of Compliance Theory


Keith A. Petty


U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps

March 15, 2010

Georgetown Journal of International Law, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
The decision to prosecute the suspected co-conspirators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in either federal court or by military tribunal has reached a critical juncture. Central to this debate is whether the military commissions are consistent with domestic and international standards of justice. Utilizing the analytical framework of compliance theory, this article discusses the U.S. reputation for compliance in the context of the revised military commissions.

A decidedly negative reputation of the military commissions contributed to policies to amend the tribunal process, culminating in the Military Commissions Act of 2009. This supports empirical findings that States are pulled toward compliance with legal norms in part out of concern for reputation among transnational actors, such as governments, multi-national institutions, non-governmental organizations, and legal commentators. This article argues for policy-makers to engage in the interpretive, discursive process of normative compliance theory when formalizing national security strategy. Applying this process will minimize the need to engage in post hoc reputation shaping and, more importantly, will facilitate internalization of applicable legal norms in counter-terrorism policy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 54

Keywords: compliance theory, military commission, national security, international law, Guantanamo

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Date posted: March 22, 2010 ; Last revised: October 13, 2010

Suggested Citation

Petty, Keith A., Beyond the Court of Public Opinion: Military Commissions and the Reputational Pull of Compliance Theory (March 15, 2010). Georgetown Journal of International Law, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1570995

Contact Information

Keith A. Petty (Contact Author)
U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps ( email )
(615) 975-8388 (Phone)
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