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Gitmo, military tribunals and Obama

Guantanamo was going to be closed and Obama planned on bringing the accused terrorists to trial in Federal Court.  One of the things he said was he believed they were entitled to a day in court and that the Bush administration had held the detainees way too long.  “Speedy trial”, etc.

Now, two years after assuming office, the Obama administration and Attorney General Holder have completely reversed themselves and decided that not only is Gitmo the proper venue for such trials, but that military tribunals, a means which they both savaged, was also adequate for the job.

Predictably the left is out to spin it in such a way that it is everyone else’s fault but Obama and Holder.

John Cole in a post entitled “Cowards”:

And no, I’m not talking about Obama and Holder. I’m talking about the clowns in Congress who apparently don’t have enough faith in this nation and who are so afraid of one man that they have to try him in secret in another country.

Simply said and as usual, mostly wrong.

Jeralyn Merritt also wants to blame Congress but is more specific about it:

I was really hoping Obama and Holder could think outside the box and come up with a way to defeat the Republican-created ban on federal criminal trials. It’s not the trials that were banned, just funding for getting them to the U.S. to stand trial.to lay the blame on Congress –

Republican created?  Merritt clarifies that a bit, but again, for the umpteenth time I want to point out that from 2008 to 2010 Democrats enjoyed huge majorities in Congress and could have done just about anything they wanted to do with the funding of federal trials or moving the venue of the trials to a city in the US.

It didn’t happen not because of Republicans, but because of one of the few bi-partisan moments in those two years.  For the most part no one wanted those trials in the US.  For example:

Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who objected to holding the trial anywhere in New York State, hailed the administration’s decision Monday.

“This means with certainty that the trial will not be in New York,” he said. “While not unexpected, this is the final nail in the coffin of that wrong-headed idea. I have always said that the perpetrators of this horrible crime should get the ultimate penalty, and I believe this proposal by the administration can make that happen.”

It was a “wrong headed idea” from the beginning.  There were two reasons.  One, most didn’t see the detainees as “criminals” and thus they were not deserving of a “criminal trial”.  They are accused terrorists who had committed acts of war against the US, so military detention and military tribunals seemed much more appropriate.  Two, moving them to the US put whichever city hosted the trials in the crosshairs of terrorists.  It would be an unnecessary risk for what were basically to be show trials.  However, the other risk was, given the sensitive nature of some of the intelligence used to apprehend them and prove their guilt, revealing it in civilian court would compromise the methods used.  So there was (and is) a distinct possibility that they’d get off in a civilian trial even though enough evidence of a secret nature existed to convict them handily. 

The perfect venue then was the tribunal system where such information could be introduced in a venue that would protect that information.

And let’s be clear about a couple other things.

There was no desire to see justice done by either Holder or Obama – it was mostly about trying to back up campaign rhetoric, which this decision finally points out was wrong, with action. 

The White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, for instance:

"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he’s going to meet his maker," said President Barack Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs. "He will be brought to justice and he’s likely to be executed for the heinous crimes that he committed in killing and masterminding the killing of 3,000 Americans. That you can be sure of."

Really?  If the idea is to show the “American criminal justice system works”, it’s hard to see that with words that are really just screaming “show trial” from the spokesperson for the President of the United States.  Gibbs took a lot of heat for that, as he should have, but it was a moment of truth that said they weren’t really interested in justice so much as having their way.  And it was the President himself who also made such a “prejudgment”:

In an interview with NBC News, Obama said those offended by the legal privileges given to Mohammed by virtue of getting a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal won’t find it "offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."

Also remember that the Obama Administration and the Justice Department endorsed indefinite detention regardless of the outcome of trials.  So had any of the detainees managed to get a verdict of “not guilty”, they might have been detained anyway.  Again, that screams “show trials” – if the verdict comes out the way we want it we’ll execute it.  If not, and we deem it necessary, we’ll keep the detainee for as long as we wish.

So while it may feel good to those on the left to blame Congress for this decision, I actually have to agree with Democrat Chuck Schumer – which pains me a bit – this was a “wrong headed idea” from the get-go and it has finally collapsed under the weight of reality.

We’re at war with these people, not fighting “crime”.  They are “enemy combatants” until proven otherwise.  They should be treated as we’d treat any such prisoners – and have treated them in previous wars – through trial by military tribunal.

And finally, after a two year delay (so much for the “speedy trial” complaint by Obama) we’re back where we were in 2008.

Oh speaking of 2008, by the way:

The defendants indicated in December 2008 that they were inclined to plead guilty without a full trial. But in one of his first steps after taking office, Mr. Obama halted all the commissions under way at Guantánamo while he reviewed the detainee policies he had inherited.

He just endorsed what he “inherited” and also managed to delay justice for two more years.

Well done.

~McQ

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12 Responses to Gitmo, military tribunals and Obama

  • Yeah, some blithering idiot writing in the Daily Beast was spinning this as a victory for al Qaeda.
    My favorite part of this the last few days was the aspect of Holder as he made his announcement!  The guy clearly hates America, and he really wanted this for New York.

  • I sense a certain tone of irritation in the post, as if liberal democrats (BIRM) lying about this thing is somehow new or offensive.  Offensive, yes; new, it most certainly is not.  These people are simply incapable of being honest.

    McQIf the idea is to show the “American criminal justice system works”, it’s hard to see that with words that are really just screaming “show trial” from the spokesperson for the President of the United States.  Gibbs took a lot of heat for that, as he should have, but it was a moment of truth that said they weren’t really interested in justice so much as having their way.

    I think it was less “having their way” than merely grandstanding, trying to have their cake and eat it too: placate their loopy base by having civilian trials (unlike the eeeeevil Bush), then placate the rest of us by assuring everybody that, no matter what, the accused would be convicted and hanged.  Had The Dear Golfer, The Bagman, or Fatboy Gibbs said, “They’ll get a fair trial followed by a first-class hanging”, they could hardly have shown greater contempt for “justice”.  Otherwise, you are spot-on.

    McQ[T]he other risk was, given the sensitive nature of some of the intelligence used to apprehend them and prove their guilt, revealing it in civilian court would compromise the methods used.  So there was (and is) a distinct possibility that they’d get off in a civilian trial even though enough evidence of a secret nature existed to convict them handily. 

    Once again, The Dear Golfer was trying to have his cake and eat it, too: convict the bad guys and look tough, but still break it off in our defense and intelligence establishment, which the libs have hated since the ’60s.  Further, it would be another opportunity to rake Bush and Co. over the coals for authorizing all those horrid, horrid, interrogation techniques, rendition, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, etc., etc.  I think he was pining for another Church Commission to throw more red meat to the idiots in his base: “See!  I got the bad guys AND the people who flew the planes into the buildings!”

    It would be of some interest to know why they hate Bush so much.  Or is it just that The Party needs a Goldstein, and he happens to be it?

  • Those damn politicians in Congress forcing the DOJ, under the outstanding leadership of Eric Holder, to try these America-hating terrorists in military tribunals.

    The “blame it on Congress” meme is interesting, especially since most (probably all) of these “containment” bills were passed with a Democrat-controlled House and Senate.  It’s only fashionable now to blame Congress because the House is in Republican hands.
    ps I just love that “outstanding leadership of …” line, with no respect to Maxine Waters and Franklin Raines who deserve none.

  • I would personally be willing to cede to a DC-based trial, if Eric holder keeps these folks at his (or Justice Sotomayor’s) house for the length of the trial.

  • OT, but may I suggest the following:

    http://wizbangblog.com/content/2011/04/05/lindsey-graham-meet-ann-barnhardt.php

    I’ve seen people open verbal cans of whoop ass in my day, but this woman… I suggest that Lindsey Graham keep tabs on where she is so he can avoid her, because I don’t think he’d survive a personal encounter.  “Sobbing in the men’s room” indeed.

  • I love the smell of petard hoisting in the morning, it reminds me of …. Democrats.
    I think George Bush and his lawyers share most of the blame for this disaster. We’ve had perfectly serviceable procedures for dealing with war criminals for 100 years. He should have gotten the AG and the SecDef in his office and said, make this happen and make it happen quickly. I think they were scared to be bold. FDR had no reservations about holding a military commission for the German saboteurs. And their only crime was to be caught infiltrating into the US with explosives and plans to blow up targets. They didn’t actually kill a single soldier let alone a civilian with a roadside bomb. Whoever advised him to go slow was a fool, and probably a graduate of Harvard Law School.

    • We’ve had perfectly serviceable procedures for dealing with war criminals for 100 years.
      And these guys are not even war criminals.  They are more like pirates in the law.
      I just heard Rush reading the ACLU’s vapors over this.  Same BS about “our best traditions” being trampled that we hear from the MEEEEsiah whenever he thinks his only audience is totally ignorant pukes.
      LOTS more than German saboteurs were tried by military tribunals off-shore during and after WWII.  Nobody had a problem with it, and there was very good due process afforded defendants.  Seems like the Nuremberg Trials were tribunals under military authority, but I have not looked that up.

  • Lawyers…the only people who can delay anything for years and years while making money during those delays.

  • 10 USC Sec. 906. Art. 106

  • Damn…

    Anyway, I fail to see why this is so hard.  There already exists law to deal with this sort of thing.  If we treat the terrorists as spies, they may be tried by court martial and executed under 10 USC 906 art. 106.

    The bewildering thing is why the left insists on treating foreign terrorists like US citizens.  Go figure…