Policy Under Fire: How Should the US Handle the Non-Criminal Detention of Violent Non-State Actors?

February 22, 2013
9:30 am -

Event Description

A Conversation with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Dawit Giorgis, Raha Wala and Ben Wittes
Moderated by Cliff May

Militant fighters have been captured during the war in Mali. This raises questions about whether the American and European positions on preventive detention rest on shaky foundations. Does the fact that Western nations don’t do preventive detentions in some way encourage killing rather than capturing enemy forces? If France does not want to be responsible for detentions itself, will detainees face greater abuse at the hands of Malian forces? If so, what should be done – and which national or transnational authority should shoulder the responsibility? Such questions point to a pertinent fact: Though governments and the media seem eager to avoid re-opening the debate over preventive detention — of the kind we have seen over the Guantánamo Bay detention facility — questions about the fate of captured militants are far from moot.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, focuses his research on the challenges posed by violent non-state actors. Studies that he has authored examine the economic aspects of al Qaeda’s military strategy; the radicalization process for jihadi terrorists; and theaters of conflict that are important to the future of the “global war on terror,” including the Horn of Africa. He is the author or volume editor of eleven books and monographs, including Bin Laden’s Legacy (Wiley, 2011), and has published widely in the popular and academic press, including in Foreign PolicyThe AtlanticReader’s DigestStudies in Conflict & TerrorismThe Yale Journal of International Affairs, and German political science journal Der Bürger im Staat.

Dawit Giorgis is a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and a former senior official in the Government of Ethiopia. During the infamous famine, which began in 1983, Giorgis served as the Commissioner of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission. Prior to that, he was the Permanent Secretary (Deputy Minister) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, and later Governor of Eritrea — which had not yet won its independence. In 1985, Giorgis sought asylum from the Ethiopian communist regime in the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen. Since then, he has served as a research fellow at Princeton University, and a staffer at the Department of Human Services in the State of New Jersey. Since 1991, he has worked as a consultant for the United Nations and other international organizations in many African countries, including Ethiopia, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Madagascar, and Sudan.

Raha Wala is an Advocacy Counsel in the Law and Security Program at Human Rights First. In this position, Raha advocates for U.S. counterterrorism and national security policies that are consistent with human rights norms. Raha graduated with honors from Georgetown University Law School, where he served as managing editor of the Georgetown Journal of International Law, co-president of Georgetown Law’s Amnesty International chapter, and student co-director of the Iraqi Refugee Resettlement Fact-Finding Project. While at Georgetown Law, Raha undertook internships at Human Rights First, the Open Society Policy Center, the Human Rights Law Foundation, and the Institute for International Law and Human Rights. Raha is the recipient of the Bettina E. Pruckmayr Award in International Human Rights and the author of From Guantánamo to Nuremberg and Back: An Analysis of Conspiracy to Commit War Crimes Under International Humanitarian Law.

Benjamin Wittes is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution and co-director of the Harvard Law School-Brookings Project on Law and Security. He is the author of Detention and Denial: The Case for Candor After Guantanamo, published in November 2011, co-editor of Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change, published in December 2011, and editor of Campaign 2012: Twelve Independent Ideas for Improving American Public Policy (Brookings Institution Press, May 2012). He is also writing a book on data and technology proliferation and their implications for security. He is the author of Law and the Long War: The Future of Justice in the Age of Terror (The Penguin Press, June 2008), and the editor of the 2009 Brookings book, Legislating the War on Terror: An Agenda for Reform. He co-founded and is the editor-in-chief of the Lawfare blog, which is devoted to non-ideological discussion of “Hard National Security Choices,” and is a member of the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on National Security and Law.


Military and Political Power