February 19, 2015
2L Zack Bluestone spent last summer with the Office of the Chief Prosecutor (OCP) in the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions. Headed by Brigadier General Mark Martins (HLS ’90), the office is responsible for the prosecution of the alleged perpetrators of the 9/11 and U.S.S. COLE attacks, as well as others accused of serious violations of the laws of war. OCP consists of approximately eighty employees; this includes civilians, Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps officers, and other servicewomen and men from all four branches of the military.
Zack spent about half of his time conducting research (e.g., comparing prosecutions in military commissions to those in federal courts, voir dire) and the other half on more narrow and novel legal questions (e.g., “matching specific facts to the elements that must be proven to convict a particular defendant”). Zack was also lucky enough to draft significant portions of responses to several pretrial motions from defense counsel.
Because Brigadier General Martins is committed to ensuring the fairness and legitimacy of the military tribunal process, internal discussion and debate were highly encouraged. As one of only a handful of student interns, Zack was frequently called upon to weigh in on these historically significant matters. For anyone interested in national security—or in the interplay between security and liberty more generally—the experience is without parallel.
Zack heard of this opportunity from one of his 1L professors. He submitted a cover letter and resume in November, interviewed by phone in early December, and was offered the position on the spot (pending a background investigation and security clearance). Because the timeline was so early in the year, Zack was able to begin his fall semester finals with a summer job already in hand.
Zack says that anyone considering the military JAG Corps should definitely consider applying, for there is no better way to interact with officers from all four military branches. Zack also thinks that the experience would be valuable for anyone who is interested in federal prosecution or government service more generally. He, himself, developed contacts within the office that helped him secure a federal appellate clerkship and a position for next summer.
All in all, Zack loved his time with the OCP. He says it was a great chance to get personally involved with an issue of extreme national and historical importance and a great way to develop strong professional relationships within the field. He plans to take more national security law courses next semester, and plans to build a career in the field after his clerkship.
Written by 1L OPIA Section Rep George Hageman