The 9/11 Terror Cases
Constitutional Challenges in the War against Al Qaeda
Allan A. Ryan
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 are indelibly etched into our cultural memory. This is the story of how the legal ramifications of that day brought two presidents, Congress, and the Supreme Court into repeated confrontation over the incarceration of hundreds of suspected terrorists and enemy combatants at the US naval base in Guantánamo, Cuba. Could these prisoners (including an American citizen) be held indefinitely without due process of law? Did they have the right to seek their release by habeas corpus in US courts? Could they be tried in a makeshift military judicial system? With Guantánamo well into its second decade, these questions have challenged the three branches of government, each contending with the others, and each invoking the Constitutions separation of powers as well as its checks and balances.
In The 9/11 Terror Cases, Allan A. Ryan leads students and general readers through the pertinent cases: Rasul v. Bush and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, both decided by the Supreme Court in 2004; Hamdan v. Bush, decided in 2006; and Boumediene v. Bush, in 2008. An eloquent writer and an expert in military law and constitutional litigation, Ryan is an adept guide through the nuanced complexities of these cases, which rejected the sweeping powers asserted by President Bush and Congress, and upheld the rule of law, even for enemy combatants. In doing so, as we see clearly in Ryan's deft account, the Supreme Court's rulings speak directly to the extent and nature of presidential and congressional prerogative, and to the critical separation and balance of powers in the governing of the United States.
“For those looking for an introduction to the role of the Supreme Court in the war on terrorism, it is hard to imagine a more appropriate volume than Ryan’s.”
—Political Science Quarterly
“A breath of fresh air amongst the numerous books written by politicians, journalists, academics, military and intelligence officers following the attacks of September 11. . . . [Provides] an objective analysis of a very complicated topic: the challenges made to the US Constitution following the invasion of Afghanistan and how the American legal and political system has responded to such challenges.”
—H-Net ReviewsSee all reviews...
“An in-depth and accessible explanation for both the origins and complexities of the detainee cases. [Ryan] examines the cases through the lens of the separation of powers system, demonstrating the back and forth between the executive, Congress, and courts on these issues.”
—Congress & the Presidency
“Ryan presents an engrossing analysis of post-9/11 court conflicts, dissecting five key cases argued during the George W. Bush years. Along the way, he offers a surgically precise yet readable critique of the administration’s decision to establish a military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Highly recommended.”
“With detailed analysis, Allan Ryan lays bare the fundamental errors of the Bush II administration in claiming for the president an inherent power to create military tribunals. The damage done by that false and rejected assertion, requiring a series of decisions by the Supreme Court and legislative action by Congress, has been costly to the principle of constitutional government and to America's standing in the world.”
—Louis Fisher, author of Military Tribunals and Presidential Power
“Allan Ryan’s The 9/11 Terror Cases is an accessible, comprehensive, and balanced account of the most important Constitutional issues that have arisen since 9/11.”
—Justin J. Wert, author of Habeas Corpus in America: The Politics of Individual Rights
“The equilibrium of American law was severely tested in the years after the 9/11 attacks, in part by an extraordinary assertion of powers by the executive branch. Ryan’s lucid and insightful portrayal clarifies how the federal courts, and in particular the Supreme Court, served as an essential counterweight to help restore the balance in our government of laws.”
—William C. Banks, editor-in-chief, Journal of National Security Law and PolicySee fewer reviews...