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Suppose We Caught Bin Laden . . . Then What?: Seven Years after 9/11, the Legal Aspects of the Aar on Terrorism Remain a Mess

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Publication Date: January 2008

Publisher(s): Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace; Daily News (New York)

Author(s): Benjamin Wittes

Funder(s): Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Funder(s): Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Series: Hoover Digest

Topic: Government (Internal security)
Government (Legislative power and procedure)

Keywords: Terrorism; National Security; U.S. Law

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


In the event that Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are captured and turned over to U.S. custody, what would happen next is impossible to predict. Seven years after the terrorist attack on 9/11, we have no agreed-upon rules for handling this situation. The executive and judicial branches of the U.S. government have been fighting it out while the legislative branch has been essentially missing in action during the debate. Until we have a serious and comprehensive engagement over a set of issues that only Congress can fruitfully address, consensus will grow more elusive, and the only way out begins with the president to establishing what powers he needs to fight and win the war.