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The Law of War A Saboteurs and War Criminals (Ex Parte Quirin)

Introduction

During an undisputed judgment delivered in the year 1942, the Supreme Court of the United States defended President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s appeal to charge several German terrorists through military commission (Sloss 354). Through this, the saboteurs were deprived of trial in federal courts. The eight saboteurs were found responsible for breaching the laws of war. As a result, they were penalized through military trials. As such, six of the eight saboteurs were condemned to death, while the other two were given a lesser punishment under the order of the president because they cooperated with the FBI. In conjunction with Eisentrager v. Johnson, Ex Parte Quirin is the main World War II-period model that the Bush government depended on after the 9/11 attacks (Greenwood 308). With the model, the administration created a military commission and attained the right to arrest the terrorists linked to Al Qaeda.

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Facts

In early 1942, eight German saboteurs arrived in the United States from Europe. These individuals were Richard Quirin, George Dasch, Edward Kerling, Ernst Peter Burger, Heinrich Harm Heinck, Werner Thiel, Herbert Haupt, and Herman Otto Neubauer. The saboteurs arrived in two factions using German submarines. One group arrived via New York, while the other group arrived via Florida. They arrived on shore with full German uniforms. They did so to make certain that they would be offered POW statuses if detained. However, they got rid of their uniforms immediately they landed. Seven of the saboteurs were German citizens. However, they had spent quite some time in the US. Among them, Haupt was the only American citizen. His parents had migrated to the US when he was 5 years old. He later got US citizenship on the merits of his parents. The eight terrorists were educated at a sabotage school in Germany. They were later given resources and prepared by a high-ranking German commandant to obliterate combat amenities in the US. The enemies were arrested when one of them presented himself to the US detectives and aided in the capture of the others.

Following the arrest, President Roosevelt formed a military committee to charge the eight Germans for breaching the decrees of war. Through this, he rejected their admittance to the courts. The committee convened on July 8, 1942 and kept on as the case was in the offing at the Supreme Court. Later, the saboteurs called for leave to file a formal request for habeas corpus in vain. They were deprived of leave by the District Court for the District of Columbia. Following this, they filed an appeal at the US Supreme Court. During the appeal, the advocate for petitioners alleged that the President had no legal right to arrange their adjudication through military commissions. The advocate maintained that the suspects were at liberty to be arbitrated in the civil courts and to be tried by a jury. He argued that the Fifth and Sixth Amendments assured everyone such rights.

Owing to the time pressure, the Supreme Court was forced to apply its powers to reflect on and decide if the information presented by the petitioners, if confirmed, would merit the release of the prisoners as an alternative to allowing the injunction of habeas corpus. An injunction of certiorari was allowed to decide if it is within the legal authority of the federal government to put suspects upon trial before a military commission for the crimes they committed. The case was heard between July 29 and 30 of the year 1942, and a ruling was made on July 31 of the same year. The Supreme Court concluded that the military had the authority to arbitrate the accusations brought against the supplicants. The comprehensive judgment was not filed until late October that year. Before then, the military committee had ruled that all the saboteurs were culpable and condemned them to death. Later, Burger and Dasch received a lesser punishment when the president intervened because they had helped the FBI in their operations. The other saboteurs were put to death using electrocution.

The holding

The Court’s holding has had long-lasting consequences in the United States security decrees in several ways. Initially, the court stated that neither the declaration that denied the suspects admittance to the US courts nor the truth that they were rival aliens prohibited the suspects’ admittance to the courts for the deliberation of their dispute that they were permitted to arbitration by judges.

Concerning the legality of the military committee assembled by the President, the court pointed out that one of the elements of the Constitution, as affirmed by its prelude, is to offer a general defense. As the commander of the armed forces, the president is legally vested with the authority to initiate a war that congress has approved and implement all the laws approved by congress. Similarly, the president can implement all laws classifying and penalizing crimes in opposition to the law of nations comprising those that are relevant to the war. These extensive war authorities comprise the assemblage of military committees to arbitrate individuals who violate the decrees of war. During the ruling, the court noted that according to article 15 of war congress had included by suggestion, as contained by the authority of military commissions, all crimes that are classified by the decree of war and that may legally be incorporated within that authority.

The court purposely defended the imprisonment and arbitration of saboteurs through the military commission. The court asserted that individuals who cross over from the enemy lands into the US territories to commit aggressive acts such as destroying properties and maiming lives during war times have the rank of illegal combatants and should be penalized through military commissions (Elsea 25). This is a regulation or war code acknowledged by the federal government through its ratification of the 15th Article of War. The reason that the saboteurs hid their military attire after landing in America means that they had violated the decrees of war. Therefore, the court ruled that the saboteurs were right to be referred to as unlawful combatants. Usually, legal combatants are at liberty to be categorized as prisoners of war upon arrest. Unlike lawful combatants, unlawful combatants are perceived as criminals of the decrees of wars and should be arbitrated through military trials. Concerning this, the saboteurs’ foe combatant status was adequate to make a distinction between this case and the Ex Parte Milligan case.

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The Ex Parte Milligan case upheld that the decree of war should not be implemented for people in nations that have supported the power of the government, and in nations where the courts are transparent and their procedures clear. Milligan, an associate of an underground association and American citizen was objecting to the civil war rather than participating in it. His case was categorized as non-aggressive. This implies that he had not breached the decrees of war. The court established that although the saboteurs had executed their attacks, the offense had in fact been committed when they landed in the US in times of conflict without any military attire or any other documents to identify them from unlawful combatants.

The Court rejected the idea that Haupt’s American citizenship would influence his imprisonment. The court asserted that an American saboteur’s citizenship does not alleviate him or her from the penalties of an illegal belligerency since it is an infringement of the decree of war. The government’s argument that Haupt through his acts relinquished or discarded his American citizenship was on no account solved. Lastly, having confirmed the legality of military commissions and their correct authority over contraventions of the decrees of war, the Court proceeded and established that sections of Article III and the Fifth and Sixth amendments can never be considered to have allowed the right to claim a jury or reject military trials. According to the court, the military commission has the authority to adjudicate crimes against the decrees of wars. As a result, the Court insisted that the privileges of the suspects were not contravened by Proclamation 2561. The court clarified that the subject articles do not exclude the process stipulated by the President or that publicized to have been used by the commission in arbitration of crimes against the decrees of war. Similarly, the Court asserted that the rights of the suspects were not contravened when military officials selected by the President invoked the 81st t and 82nd articles of War.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be noted Ex Parte Quirin case ruled in the year 1942 has been used as a model in arbitrating saboteurs in the United States. In the case, the court defended the president’s Franklin D. Roosevelt authority to charge German terrorists through military commission. Through this, the saboteurs were prevented from being tried in federal courts. The eight saboteurs were found responsible for breaching the decrees of war. As a result, they were punished to death through military trials. As such, six of the eight saboteurs were condemned to death, while the other two were given a lesser punishment under the order of the president because they cooperated with the FBI. To date, the Court’s holding has had long-lasting consequences in the United States security decrees. The court insisted that neither the declaration that denied the suspects admittance to the US courts nor the truth that they were enemy aliens prohibited the suspects’ admittance to the courts for the deliberation of their dispute that they were permitted to arbitration by judges. Concerning the legality of the military committee assembled by the President, the court pointed out that one of the elements of the constitution, as affirmed by its prelude, is to offer a general defense. As the commander of the armed forces, the president is legally vested with the authority to initiate a war that Congress has approved and implement all the laws approved by congress.

Works Cited

Elsea, Jennifer. Terrorism and the law of war trying terrorists as war criminals before military commissions. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2001. Print.

Greenwood, Christopher. “International Law And The ‘war Against Terrorism’.” International Affairs 78.2 (2002): 301-317. Print.

Sloss, David. International law in the U.S. Supreme Court: continuity and change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

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