NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Military Tribunals in the Past

November 16, 2001

President Bush has signed an order allowing special military tribunals to try foreigners charged with terrorism. Here are some examples of past trials by U.S. military commissions.

  • Revolutionary War: On Sept. 29, 1780, British secret agent John Andre was convicted of collaborating with Benedict Arnold, and was hanged.
  • Mexican War, 1846-1848: Gen. Winfield Scott ordered punishment for violations of the "law of war" committed by U.S. forces in Mexico. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a colonel.
  • Civil War: The Union army conducted t least 4,271 trials by military commission.
  • World War II: In 1942, German saboteurs captured after sailing submarines to Long Island and Florida were convicted and executed. In 1946 Japanese Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita was convicted and hanged for torture, rape and slaughter of Philippine citizens.

Source: "A Look Back: Military Tribunals in the Past," New York Times, November 15, 2001.


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