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Congress May Force ‘Military Tribunals’

From a distraught Washington Post:

Obama advisers set to recommend military tribunals for alleged 9/11 plotters

By Anne E. Kornblut and Peter Finn
Friday, March 5, 2010; A01

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 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."

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…

Top Obama advisers have been negotiating with Sen. Lindsey O. 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.

Military lawyers said prosecutors cannot simply reconstitute the case the government dropped in January and will have to re-arraign Mohammed and the others. Facing trial with Mohammed are four other alleged key players in the Sept. 11 conspiracy: Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni; Walid bin Attash, also a Yemeni; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, a Pakistani who is Mohammed’s nephew; and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, a Saudi. The five defendants were first arraigned in June 2008.

"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…

To close the detention center at Guantanamo, the administration needs funding to acquire and refurbish a prison in the United States, probably a state-owned maximum-security facility in Thomson, Ill. Because Congress has barred the transfer to the United States of all detainees except those destined for prosecution, the White House needs legal authority to move prisoners it plans to hold in some form of indefinite detention.

An interagency review of all cases at Guantanamo Bay concluded that about 50 prisoners will have to be held in some form of prolonged detention without trial, because the evidence against them was obtained through the use of harsh interrogation methods or because its revelation in court would compromise intelligence gathering. The government says the detainees are too dangerous to release.
Anger from the left

A decision to reverse course on Mohammed is likely to dismay civil liberties groups and human rights groups who loudly cheered Obama’s election because they thought he would dismantle military tribunals developed during the Bush administration.

"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."

What this article suggests but never directly points out is that Mr. Obama is at the mercy of Congress here.

They have to provide the funding for these expensive civilian trials. And they might not be willing to take that political hit on top of the political hit of voting for the hugely unpopular ‘healthcare reform’ reconciliation.

So Mr. Obama’s ‘healthcare reform’ might inadvertently do something good for national security.

Which, if it happens, it will be the first and only good thing it ever does.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, March 5th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Congress May Force ‘Military Tribunals’”

  1. BillK says:

    Will Barry backtrack?

    From Fox News, the Washington Post and the Associated Press:

    In Reversal, Obama Advisers to Recommend Military Tribunals for 9/11 Plotters

    Top advisers to President Obama are close to a decision recommending that the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks be prosecuted in a military tribunal, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing unnamed administration officials.

    According to the report, the president’s advisors have grown increasingly wary of bipartisan opposition to the planned civilian federal trial in New York City, mere blocks from where nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in the spectacular attack on the World Trade Center.

    New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and prominent state Democrats, who initially embraced Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other conspirators in Manhattan, have since reversed their support for the trial.

    The paper said administration officials are privately bracing for backlash from disappointed liberals and some government lawyers should Obama reverse his decision to try the detainees in civilian courts.

    Officials told the Post an announcement could come soon and that they hoped to finalize their plans by March 18, when Obama leaves for a trip to Indonesia. …

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/03/04/obama-aides-recommend-military-trial/

    You mean the administration may not be completely tone deaf on every issue?

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    “The people remind Congress to uphold the Constitution”

    Goes with the “real” story …….. they hear us ……… NOW!!
    Back Slidin’ Barry

    “He was for it before he was against it!”

  3. JohnMG says:

    ……”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,……..”

    Breaks campaign promises? Obama? Really!!

    Imagine the nerve of that guy, but I can see why these idiots are dismayed. They’re finally being treated to what the rest of us have endured for the past thirteen-plus months.

    As Bob Dylan would croon……”How does it feeeeeeeeeeeell, to be out on your own……like a complete unknown……..like a rollin’ stone.”

    Bob sure had some telling lyrics in his songs, and they’d fit perfectly to the times we live in right now. Think of Barry the next time you hear these words; …………..”I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, and just for that one moment I could be you. I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes……..you’d know what a drag it is to see you.”


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