President Barack Obama has nominated Professor Scott L. Silliman for a seat on the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review, the appellate court that reviews each military commission case held at Guantanamo Bay. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
In a Nov. 10 press release announcing the nomination, the president said Silliman’s extensive experience in both military and civilian law makes him “uniquely qualified to both protect our national security interests and uphold our highest judicial standards.”
Silliman is a professor of the practice of law and director emeritus of the Duke Center on Law, Ethics and National Security (LENS); he served as director from the center’s inception in 1993 until July 2011. His teaching and research interests focus on national security law, military law, and the law of armed conflict.
Silliman joined the Duke Law faculty after a 25-year career as an Air Force judge advocate during which he held a variety of leadership positions, including staff judge advocate and senior attorney for Tactical Air Command and later Air Combat Command. During the Persian Gulf War, he supervised the deployment of all Air Force attorneys and paralegals incident to Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He retired from the Air Force with the rank of colonel.
“I cannot think of a better nominee than Scott Silliman,” said Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap Jr., USAF (retired), the executive director of LENS and a visiting professor of the practice of law. “Not only does he have a distinguished military career, he is also extremely well-known as one of the nation’s foremost national security law scholars. He is the perfect blend of integrity, judgment, and scholarship. This is the ideal choice.”
The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review is an appellate court that reviews cases that come before military commissions. It is composed of one or more panels, including at least three appellate military judges as well as civilian judges, who sit in panels or as a whole, to review each military commission case submitted to the Court of Military Commission Review. The Court of Military Commission Review also reviews the findings and sentence of each military commission case for legal and factual sufficiency, unless the accused waives the right to appeal.
On Nov. 9, a military commission convened at Guantanamo Naval Base to arraign Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national accused of plotting the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen. His trial marks the first capital proceeding to come before a military commission tribunal since the system was created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.