‘A Conversation with Brigadier General Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor at the Office of U.S. Military Commissions in the Department of Defense’



Brigadier General Mark Martins
Chief Prosecutor at the Office of U.S. Military Commissions in the Department of Defense

1 – 2pm, Thursday 27th September 2012

Wilson Room, Portcullis House, London, SW1A 2LW

To attend please RSVP to: emily.banks@henryjacksonsociety.org

More than a decade on from 9/11, the debate concerning America’s continued detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay remains fiercely controversial. While it is widely criticised by governments and human rights groups across the world, a lack of viable alternatives has meant that it is impossible to foresee Guantanamo Bay closing at any stage in the near future.

Despite his public criticisms and vow to close the detention camp, President Obama has not only kept Guantanamo open – he has restarted military trials. Among those to be tried is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda’s chief operations planner and the mastermind behind the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Some have accused the military trials of being insufficiently transparent and fair; others have asked why the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed could not be tried in a civilian court. However, are civilian courts able to properly judge mass murderers captured on foreign soil, often when the evidence against them comes from highly sensitive intelligence sources? How would a civilian court make allowances for the extended periods of detention that Guantanamo Bay detainees have now endured? Such dilemmas concerning the military and legal response to al-Qaeda lie at the heart of America’s War on Terror.

By kind invitation of Henry Smith MP, The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Transatlantic & International Security is pleased to host a meeting with Brigadier General Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor at the Office of U.S. Military Commissions in the Department of Defense. Brigadier General Martins will outline major provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2009, address the continuing challenges to the reformed system’s legitimacy, suggest what will be necessary to surmount perceptions of “victor’s justice,” and offer thoughts on the future of efforts to hold al Qaeda and associated forces accountable under law.

The conversation is conducted by Henry Smith MP. Please note that Chatham House Rule will be in effect to stimulate open discussion and the sharing of information. Participants will thus be free to use the information received, but should reveal neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker, nor that of any other participant.

TIME: 1 – 2pm

DATE: Thursday 27th September 2012

VENUE: Wilson Room, Portcullis House, London, SW1A 2LW

To attend please RSVP to: emily.banks@henryjacksonsociety.org


Brigadier General Martins has served as the Chief Prosecutor of the war crimes trial system reformed by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 since September 2011. Over the previous year, in Afghanistan, Martins was commander of the Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan and of the dual-hat NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission. The prior year, also in Afghanistan, he had served as the first and Interim Commander of Joint Task Force 435. In these roles, Brigadier General Martins led the effort to reform United States detention operations in Afghanistan and provided field support to Afghan and international civilian rule of law project teams in contested provinces of the country. Immediately prior to his deployment to Afghanistan, Brigadier General Martins co-led the interagency Detention Policy Task Force created by President Obama in January 2009.

Commissioned in the infantry after graduating first in order of merit from the United States Military Academy in 1983, Brigadier General Martins served as a platoon leader and staff officer in the 82d Airborne Division. He then became a judge advocate and has since served in a variety of legal and non-legal positions. These have included criminal trial counsel, operational lawyer, staff judge advocate, chief of staff, and commander.

He has been deployed to zones of armed conflict for more than five years, including service as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Kosovo Force, Staff Judge Advocate for First Armored Division and then Multi-National Force-Iraq, and his recent duties with Rule of Law Field Support Teams across eight provinces and twenty-three key districts in Afghanistan.

Brigadier General Martins is a Rhodes Scholar (Balliol College, P.P.E., 1st Class Honours, 1985) and a graduate of Harvard Law School (magna cum laude, 1990).  He holds an L.L.M. in Military Law and a Masters Degree in National Security Strategy, having attended the Infantry and Judge Advocate Officer Basic courses, the Judge Advocate Graduate course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Command and General Staff College, and the National War College. He has published widely in professional journals.

His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, the Department of State Meritorious Honor Award, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star (two awards), and the Army Meritorious Service Medal (multiple awards). He has also earned the Ranger Tab, Pathfinder Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, and Air Assault Badge.

In April of 2011, Brigadier General Martins was awarded the Harvard Law School Medal of Freedom.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Transatlantic & International Security aims to research and create awareness about global security issues in order to contribute to an informed and effective British foreign policy, aimed at utilizing and strengthening the Transatlantic Alliance between Europe and the USA.

APPG Officers


Mrs Gisela Stuart MP 

Vice Chairs

Mr Henry Smith MP
Mr Derek Twigg MP

Mr David Ruffley MP

Mr Damian Collins MP


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