March 6, 2010

(h/t David)

Nothing like kowtowing to the fear-mongers on the other side, who will only use this move to prove you're weak and a flip-flopper:

President Obama's advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

The president's advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. While Obama has favored trying some terrorism suspects in civilian courts as a symbol of U.S. commitment to the rule of law, critics have said military tribunals are the appropriate venue for those accused of attacking the United States.

If Obama accepts the likely recommendation of his advisers, the White House may be able to secure from Congress the funding and legal authority it needs to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and replace it with a facility within the United States. The administration has failed to meet a self-imposed one-year deadline to close Guantanamo.

The "bipartisan" buzzword comes from the inclusion of Blanche "How do we pushback on members of our own party?" Lincoln and James Webb. Interesting that the frightened bunny contingent pulls more weight than those of us who want to see the US uphold our ideals and laws and don't want to submit to the fear that the terrorists seek.

As would be expected, .the ACLU is very unhappy about this possible reversal:

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, this regrettable reversal under political pressure will strike a blow to American values and the rule of law and undermine America’s credibility.

There have been over 300 terrorism-related convictions in the federal courts, while there have been only three in the military commissions, two resulting in sentences of less than a year.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

“If this stunning reversal comes to pass, President Obama will deal a death blow to his own Justice Department, not to mention American values.

“If the president flip-flops and retreats to the Bush military commissions, he will betray his campaign promise to restore the rule of law, demonstrate that his principles are up for grabs and lose all credibility with Americans who care about justice and the rule of law.

“Even with recent improvements, the military commissions system is incapable of handling complicated terrorism cases and achieving reliable results. President Obama must not cave in to political pressure and fear-mongering. He should hold firm and keep these prosecutions in federal court, where they belong.”

I suspect the motivation behind this is to quell the grumblings of organizations like Keep America Safe and Republicans eager to paint the President as soft on terrorism or somehow sympathetic to them, but as Glenn Greenwald points out, this action isn't going to quiet them, but embolden them even more:

For years, Democrats have failed to grasp the fact that they are perceived as "weak" not because of any specific policies, but because they are perceived -- rightly -- to believe in nothing (or at least nothing that they claim to believe). It is hard to imagine any act that could more strongly bolster that perception than to watch Barack Obama -- yet again -- scamper away from his own claimed principles all because the GOP is saying some mean things about him.

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