Free Markets, Free People

Military Commissions Back On The Table For Gitmo

Sometimes, watching this circus of the Obama administration, you just have to shake your head and laugh a bit, even if the laughter is rueful:

The Obama administration is moving toward reviving the military commission system for prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, which was a target of critics during the Bush administration, including Mr. Obama himself.

Officials said the first public moves could come as soon as next week, perhaps in filings to military judges at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, outlining an administration plan to amend the Bush administration’s system to provide more legal protections for terrorism suspects.

Continuing the military commissions in any form would probably prompt sharp criticism from human rights groups as well as some of Mr. Obama’s political allies because the troubled system became an emblem of the effort to use Guantánamo to avoid the American legal system.

The more this crew gets into the weeds concerning Gitmo, the more they seem to validate all the moves Bush made.

I’m sure it’s a bit maddening for them.

Officials who work on the Guantánamo issue say administration lawyers have become concerned that they would face significant obstacles to trying some terrorism suspects in federal courts. Judges might make it difficult to prosecute detainees who were subjected to brutal treatment or for prosecutors to use hearsay evidence gathered by intelligence agencies.

That was the Bush administration argument for some time. Congress passed legislation to enable it, the SCOTUS shot it down and told them how to fix it and Congress did, only to see SCOTUS change its mind and shoot it down again.

And, of course, that made it very easy to denounce from the campaign trail. But now the reality of governing intrudes:

Obama administration officials — and Mr. Obama himself — have said in the past that they were not ruling out prosecutions in the military commission system. But senior officials have emphasized that they prefer to prosecute terrorism suspects in existing American courts. When President Obama suspended Guantánamo cases after his inauguration on Jan. 20, many participants said the military commission system appeared dead.

But in recent days a variety of officials involved in the deliberations say that after administration lawyers examined many of the cases, the mood shifted toward using military commissions to prosecute some detainees, perhaps including those charged with coordinating the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The more they look at it,” said one official, “the more commissions don’t look as bad as they did on Jan. 20.”

Heh … what a surprise.

And this:

Administration officials said Friday that some detainees would be prosecuted in federal courts and noted that Mr. Obama had always left open the possibility of using military commissions.

… is pure and unadulterated BS.

Still, during the presidential campaign Mr. Obama criticized the commissions, saying that “by any measure our system of trying detainees has been an enormous failure,” and declaring that as president he would “reject the Military Commissions Act.”

But according to both Sec. Gates and AG Holder, military commissions are still very much on the table, because, as Holder said:

“It may be difficult for some of those high-value detainees to be tried in a normal federal court.”

Gee — I wonder who else’s administration said that?


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7 Responses to Military Commissions Back On The Table For Gitmo

  • Two things.

    One, this is where the Left, with Obama eventually taking the vanguard, were attacking urgent but wise modifications to more or less longstanding military legal methods for dealing with combatants. In this case combatants who fell outside of the treaties and even the standard definitions of unlawful combatants. In fact, I contend that asymmetrical strategy factors these confusions, which was why Khalid was so confident and arrogant before they put a little water on his face. He thought that he was going straight into the U.S. legal system where the lawyers would put on a clown-show defense for him.

    Two, as yet another element of the Left-Obama wave function collapses, don’t expect this or anything like it to be re-examined by the previously inflammed media in the light of reality. I used to dig into the legal mechanics of this stuff myself, but basically got tired of it, I don’t know, maybe three years ago. But right from the beginning the Bush people always tried to take a path that was legally secure in the wartime traditions of the U.S. while remaining consistent with the needs of national security, you know, the old “the Constitution is not a suicide pact” understanding of where the lines are drawn.

    But here’s the bottom line: The Left does not want the chalk outline drawn around it after a terrorist event, not while it has its man in charge. But when Bush was in charge, the Left was content to do what it could to help the enemy (and in so many ways other than this one, too). Never was any of the Left’s caterwalling about defending our freedoms, which the Left cares about in the same way Khalid’s defense lawyers would have cared about them, as a way to knife freedom in the back. You’re not free if you’re already dead.

    But now the public is utterly confused, and the media, composed as it is of graduates from journalism schools or programs, couldn’t straighten it out for them if they wanted to, and they don’t.

    • Now that Mr. Wonderful is running the country, some of our esteemed legal “scholars” and law professors are actually researching military law and have discovered that “unlawful combatants” are what people used to call “spies” and “saboteurs” (i.e. terrorists).  

      Here’s a clue: For centuries, under the Laws of War the “process” that spies and saboteurs are “due” has been summary execution.  Even the Geneva Conventions have always allowed this.  Nothing in General Article 3 changes that, and anyone who understands how wars are fought knows this.  Even “good” spies like Nathan Hale, and saboteurs like James Andrews knew well ahead of time the penalty were they caught by their enemies.

  • Where’s that tool Mona?

    • I think that McQ took her back to the toolshed

      • Heh.  I’d like to see her explain why she still hasn’t blogged on the topic of Obama’s repudiation of his campaign promises on this and related topics.  It appears that the only subject she can work up the pixels over is medical marijuana.

  • Time to prosecute Obama as a war criminal

  • Ho…The Clown™ full of horsesh!t? My, my, how times have changed. Just yesterday dumb liberals said he could walk on water. Now he is just a political hack.
    When you sleep with feces, you get flies.