Scott L. Silliman

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Scott L. Silliman is an American expert in military law.[1] He is a law Professor at Duke University, who was appointed to the United States Court of Military Commission Review (USCMCR) in 2012.

Silliman has regularly been called upon, by journaists, for expert opinions.[1] An opinion on the guilt of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, and his four co-defendants, in the 9-11 Guantanamo Military Commission triggered a civilian appeals court to over-rule the USCMCR.[2] The civilian appeals court agreed with the defendants, that since Silliman had voiced the opinion that the five were guilty, in a 2010 interview, he was biased, and should have recused himself.

Silliman earned a Bachelor's Degree, in Philosophy, at the University of North Carolina, in 1965, followed by a law degree, in 1968.[1] While there he participated in the ROTC program. Upon graduation, he began a 25 year career as a military lawyer, in the United States Air Force. When he retired, in 1993, he joined the faculty at the Duke Law School. He was the first Executive Director of Duke’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, a position he held for 18 years.

Opinions offered

The conduct of Navy SEALs during the Maersk Alabama rescue

During the final part of the rescue of the crew of Maersk Alabama three of the four pirates retreated to the vessel's lifeboat, taking the Captain as a hostage, together with $30,000 from the ship's safe.[3] According to widely publicized accounts of the Captain's rescue, when snipers heard a firearms discharge, on the lifeboat, three snipers each killed one of the pirates with a single shot. It emerged, during the trial of the remaining pirate, that the Captain could hear the labored breathing of at least one injured pirate. During the trial Philip L. Weinstein said that an expert on firearms wounds who examined photos of the dead pirates said they had been shot 19 times. Weinstein argued that the SEALS had violated their obligations, under the Geneva Conventions, to refrain from further injuring enemy combatants, who were too injured to further participate in hostilities. According to Fox News Silliman defended the SEALs:

"Scott L. Silliman, a professor at Duke University Law School and an expert on wartime legal doctrine, said he believes the SEALs did nothing wrong. He said the SEALs had to make the assumption that the Somalis were armed and a continuing threat. In other words, they were still combatants.".[3]