On November 13, 2001, President Bush signed a Military Order pertaining to the detention, treatment, and trial of certain non-citizens in the war against terrorism. The President's Military Order makes it apparent that he plans to treat the attacks as acts of war rather than criminal acts, and to prosecute those responsible as war criminals, trying them by special military commission rather than in federal court. The purpose of this report is to clarify the legal basis for treating the acts as war crimes and the ramifications of applying the law of war rather than criminal statutes to prosecute the perpetrators. The discussion focuses on the trial of alleged terrorists and conspirators by a military commission rather than the federal courts. A longer treatment of the issues in this report and an analysis of other relevant issues, including the Military Order, are contained in CRS Report RL 31191.
CRS Report for Congress, RS21056