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Military Commissions Act of 2006

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The Military Commissions Act (Public Law 109-366, also known as "MCA") was passed by the 109th Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2006. This Act authorized "trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes." The passage of this Act followed the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. 

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In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the military commissions envisioned by President George W. Bush needed Congressional approval partially due to their violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.[1] Therefore, the MCA established military commissions to comport with Common Article 3 standards against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.[2] 

This Act empowered the President to establish military commissions for offenses designated within the statute. The statute provided procedures governing the use of military commissions when trying unlawful enemy combatants engaging in hostilities against the United States. These charges were based primarily on violations of the laws of war and other statutorily determined offenses.[3] If an unlawful enemy combatant is convicted for offenses against the United States, the possibility of punishment included the penalty of death.

This Act also ensured safeguards for the defendants, which included the following: an extensive appeals process, right to be present during trial, presumption of innocence, right to self-representation, right to cross-examination, prohibition against double jeopardy, and other enumerated protections.[4]


  1. http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20060926_huq.html
  2. http://www.state.gov/s/l/2006/98865.htm
  3. http://www.defense.gov/news/d2007OMCFactSheet08Feb07.pdf
  4. http://www.state.gov/s/l/2006/98865.htm

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