The U.S. military enjoys virtual extraterritoriality in its foreign military bases. Neither the U.S. Constitution, federal laws, nor the laws of the host countries are applied in them. This has caused "massive injustice" such as environmental destruction and human rights violations on a daily basis in the Asia Pacific region, where the U.S. deploys almost half of its military power.
This paper examines the case of Guam between 1899 and 1909 to explore the origins of military extraterritoriality for U.S. foreign military bases. During this period, the Department of the Navy battled with Congress for the power of taxation and land control of Guam. Secretaries of the Navy argued that since neither the Constitution nor the federal laws were applicable to the island, naval governors are entitled to exercise exclusive administering authority. Congress, on the other hand, tacitly allowed military administration by “forbearing” to make any legislation pertaining the island.
The paper finds that Guam's anomalous status made President, as a Commander-in-Chief, an absolute authority over the island. And the navy was delegated full authority by President, thus allowed to temporarily exercise authority while Congress does not take actions. It should be noted that Congressional omission has led to serious violation of rights of the residents of Guam