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Friday, March 5, 2010

Hey, Maybe Bush Was Right? Obama Advisers Recommend Military Tribunal for Khalid Sheik Mohammed

President Obama has stated all along that the decision to move the 9/11 terror trials of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and friends to a civilian court in New York City, has been Eric Holder's and Eric Holder's alone.

It is very hard to comprehend that a politically explosive decision like that was made without the approval of the President.  But placing the blame on Holder gives him cover for what apparently is coming next.

Surprised by the continuing anger about moving the trials to a NY Civilian court the WAPO is reporting that the trials may be moved back into the military tribunal system.
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 administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the president's legal advisers are finalizing their review of the cases of Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators. Asked about the process, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that "no decisions have been made."
Of course if the move is made, the Daily Kos, MoveON, George Soros set will be very angry.
Privately, administration officials are bracing for the ire of disappointed liberals and even some government lawyers should the administration back away from promises to use civilian courts to adjudicate the cases of some of the 188 detainees who remain at Guantanamo.

..Administration officials said that an announcement could come soon and that they hoped to finalize their plans before Obama leaves for Indonesia on March 18.
.....Capital charges against Mohammed and his four co-defendants were withdrawn without prejudice and dismissed on Jan. 21 in what military prosecutors thought was a prelude to a transfer to Manhattan. But by February, there was near-universal opposition among activists and lawmakers in both parties to trying the case in New York.
Top Obama advisers have been negotiating with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) -- a vocal critic of trying the Sept. 11 suspects in civilian court -- in pursuit of a deal that would secure his help in closing Guantanamo. Graham has sought the creation a legal framework that would spell out how the government would detain and try future captives, but an administration official warned that a "grand bargain" is not likely in the immediate future. The official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the talks with Graham have been mostly about "limited issues" involving the Mohammed trial and the future of Guantanamo.
What makes the negotiations even more difficult is that unlike the case of the health care bill and Rep. Jim Matheson, Senator Graham does not have a brother who needs an appointment to the federal court.

If the move is indeed made, things have to start all over. Military prosecutors will have to re-arraign Mohammed and the others and re-start all of the pre-trial motions.
"You start back at square one, but it wouldn't take long to catch up to where we were," said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the administration has made no formal announcement about the case.
It may be that some in the government want to start from scratch. Justice Department lawyers who were preparing for the civilian trial of Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators planned to avoid using any evidence obtained through the coercive interrogation of the defendants while they were held in CIA secret prisons. Mohammed is one of three known detainees subjected to waterboarding while in CIA custody.
...."If President Obama reverses Holder's decision to try the 9/11 defendants in criminal court and retreats to using the Bush military commissions, he deals a death blow to his own Justice Department, breaks a clear campaign promise to restore the rule of law and demonstrates that the promises to his constituents are all up for grabs," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The military commissions have not worked, they are doomed to failure, and Obama will invariably find himself running for office again while not achieving justice for the 9/11 attacks."
That's the beauty of saying the decision was Holder's--PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY! To those who say he flip flopped he can say he only got involved when Congress protested the decision. To his Progressive friends he can say, Hey I was willing to do it, but these "blue ribbon advisers" told me it wasn't good for the country.

When Barack Obama was a member of the Illinois State Senate he voted "present" 130 times, showing that he did not want to register an opinion on key issues. As president he is doing the same thing, using "Plausible Deniability" to keep from being pinned down.  That may be the mark of a politician, but it is NOT the mark of a leader. Unfortunately a leader is what the United States needs right now.

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