(please scroll down for update)
Apologies for the jarring visual right after lunch….
Recall how for years the left whined about the use of military tribunals for detainees and how trying the likes of KSM in civilian courts instead would be a triumph for civil rights and the Constitution. Well, last week, the Obama administration gave the left the apparent victory it has long sought as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 4 other terror detainees will be tried in a civilian court mere steps from 9-11 ground zero. Or is it?
He has consistently dodged the question of whether or not he would let KSM walk if he were actually acquitted but here is what he said back in May:
Now, let me begin by disposing of one argument as plainly as I can: We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.
Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture — like other prisoners of war — must be prevented from attacking us again.
So, how does the President intend on accomplishing this for KSM and other terror suspects if they are acquitted in the civilian courts?
Before Obama’s election, Neal Katyal who is now Obama’s principal Deputy Solicitor General, in an article favored the idea of a “national security court” separate from the civilian courts that would be employed for a “very small handful of cases in which patently dangerous people cannot be tried” or where a “criminal trial has failed”.
Where a criminal trial has failed…?
Do yourself a favor and click on over to Patterico’s Pontifications who has done an outstanding job of citing quotes from the President and the Attorney General, Eric Holder, to make a very strong case that the possibility of a separate system outside of the civilian court system that will be employed if KSM is acquitted amounts to this upcoming trial of KSM and the four others as being nothing more than a show trial.
Let's see how this whole thing plays out and see how much of a victory it is for civil rights and the Constitution.
(UPDATE #1):Charles Krauthammer on Fox News, via the Corner on Holder’s baffling inconsistency with sending KSM to the civilian courts and the USS COLE bombers to military tribunals and the farcical nature of the civilian trials:
What is so hard to understand is Holder's argument, the logic of his argument.
Now, I want to look only at a single aspect of it. … If [Holder] opposed the military commissions on principle, you could say his decision on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was wrong, but at least it was logical.
But he doesn't. On the day he sent KSM to a civilian trial in New York, he announced he would send five of the miscreants who attacked the Cole, a warship, to a military trial in Guantanamo or perhaps elsewhere.
Now, what is the logic here? Holder was asked about this, and to the extent that he was coherent, which is only to a small extent, he said: Well, if you attack a civilian target, as in 9/11, then you go to a civilian court; a military target like the Cole, to a military [court].
First of all, the Pentagon was hit on 9/11, so it wasn't exclusively a civilian attack. But perhaps Holder forgot about that.
But secondly, even if [9/11] were exclusively an attack on civilians — which is a worse act of war criminality, attacking defenseless civilians or attacking a military target, like a warship? We have attacked warships in our history, Japan and Germany in the Second World War and elsewhere. That is an accepted act of war.
Why does a person [like] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who attacked civilians — the more obvious and egregious war crime — get the extra protections, the extra constitutional niceties that you get in a civilian courtroom, as opposed to someone who attacks a military target? The logic here is perverse.
And the incentive is [perverse]: If you are a terrorist overseas thinking — am I going to attack a well-protected military installation? [No,] I will hit a civilian [target]. I will be in a cozy cell with a lawyer, Miranda rights and perhaps even a blog. Why wouldn't I attack innocent civilians?
On whether, if by technicality or hung jury, one of these cases went the other way, they would be let free:
They will be rearrested in the courtroom. A second charge will be filed, and it will be endless. And in the end, if they are acquitted on all charges endlessly, they will end up in indefinite detention.
We will not let them out. Everyone knows that. That's what makes it such a farce.
Setting aside for a moment, the show trial aspect that is formulating, what is the political upside for the admnistration for doing this? Drop the “victory for the Constitution” nonsense as the President has already admitted KSM is not going to walk, regardless – what’s in it for him? The only logical explanation we can muster is payback to his base who have been screaming for Bush and Cheney’s heads for years.
Of course, it will be the counter-terrorism and interrogation techniques of the Bush administration that will be on trial and if this results in war crimes indictments from the ICC then so much the better.
But that petty payoff to your lefty base seems to be a pretty meager upside considering the absolute Charlie-Foxtrot this all has the potential to become.