Friday, March 5, 2010

Report: KSM Trial in Military Commission

Sounds like the administration might back down, if this Washington Post story is true, and good sense might prevail for a change. However, could this be just some Chicago-style dealmaking to allow for the Gitmo shut down?
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.
Writing at NationalReviewOnline, Dana Perino and Bill Burck comment on this development:
Anthony Romero of the ACLU tells the Washington Post that the White House’s decision will be “a death blow to [President Obama’s] own Justice Department.” Romero is half right — it is a death blow to the current Justice leadership and President Obama is partly to blame for allowing Holder to be in charge of the decision for a time. But let’s not forget the attorney general himself. With stunning arrogance, Holder imposed his will on New York without consulting the mayor or the police chief. After all, Holder doesn’t feel it’s necessary to consult with the intelligence services when a terrorist is captured trying to blow up an airplane, so why would he consult with mere local officials? Well, those local officials were more than Holder bargained for, and once they realized how expensive, disruptive, and totally unnecessary a civilian trial in New York would be, they told Holder to take his trial somewhere else.
The Post is also reporting that the White House is looking to cut a deal with Sen. Lindsey Graham to close Guantanamo in exchange for trying detainees in military commissions. As we have said before, we haven’t heard a justification for closing Guantanamo that would outweigh the huge downsides. Guantanamo remains the best place to hold these terrorists. Once they set foot on U.S. soil, they will acquire a whole set of rights to which they are not currently entitled — not to mention the security risks of turning the military base in the U.S. which would hold them into a prime target for al-Qaeda.

Is there A Fifth Column in the Justice Department?

We mentioned before that U.S. Attorney General Holder's former law firm represented enemy combatants in court, which poses a fundamental conflict of interest for him and his staff. The news media--which was really, really concerned about Justice Department politicization in the prior administration--has pretty much ignored this story. The Keep America Safe organization released this video about the so-called Al Qaeda Seven: has more on the story:
The video by the group Keep America Safe, which dubbed the seven lawyers "The Al Qaeda 7," is the latest salvo in a lengthty political battle.
For several months, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has led an effort to uncover politically-appointed lawyers within the Justice Department who have advocated for Guantanamo Bay detainees or other terror suspects.
An extensive review of court documents and media reports by Fox News suggests many of the seven lawyers in question played only minor or short-lived roles in advocating for detainees. However, it's unclear what roles, if any, they have played in detainee-related matters since joining the Justice Department.
On FNC, Charles Krauthammer discusses these "radical civil libertarians" in the Justice Department who have a "peculiar understanding of the constitution":