Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is A Detainee Just Another Criminal Defendant?

Why didn't the Bush administration push harder to actually try enemy combatants in military tribunals after announcing they were going in that direction? Part of it resulted from legal roadblocks thrown up by "civil liberties" advocates, but perhaps this was another management failure in the previous administration. But as a practical matter, putting terrorists, detainees, or nongovernmental wealth redistributors (whatever euphemism the government currently uses) in civilian court could have dangerous consequences. When the defense lawyers from the ACLU or some large law firm taking the case pro bono (i.e., for free) start flooding the court docket with discovery motions and other excessive pleadings, sensitive information may surface. There have already been instances where documents obtained at trial have found their way to our adversaries. And then, what happens when defense lawyers, as they often do in criminal cases, muddy the waters enough to obtain an acquittal for a detainee who isn't exactly squeaky clean? Not guilty and innocent are two different things.
...[D]espite repeated questioning, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs refused to answer whether the Obama administration will free Ahmed Ghailani if he's found not guilty in court. The Obama administration flew the accused terrorist from Guantanamo to New York yesterday [June 9] to try him for his alleged role in the 1998 embassy bombings.
“I'm not going to get into hypotheticals about how certain cases may or may not play out,” Gibbs said.
The question is important on several levels. If he will be freed, that prompts questions of national security and whether civilian courts are as appropriate as other venues for such trials. If he won't be freed despite being found not guilty that undermines the credibility of the trial,
Again, what is the end game for those taking on these cases? How does that make the country more safe? Aren't there many other worthy causes these lawyers handle that don't involve individuals who have taken up arms against the U.S. or other countries? As Peter Collier and/or David Horowitz once observed, it appears that the freedom of America is being used to undermine America's freedom.