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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

KSM Trial is Another Vote of Present

There is almost unanimous applause in the left-wing blogosphere and mainstream media editorial boards for Obama's decision to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial in a civilian court. The decision is being hailed as a courageous act to restore the rule of law. In fact, it is a punt by Obama wherein hard decisions about disclosure of classified information regarding the interrogation program will be made by a judge, not the Obama administration.

The logic goes that we should afford an enemy combatant picked up in Pakistan a civilian trial here because we need to prove that we believe in the rule of law, and we need to prove that our justice system can handle whatever may come. Put aside for the moment that the U.S. Supreme Court has not required a civilian trial for such combatants, and Obama previously stated that fair military tribunals were appropriate.

Here is the lofty verbiage from the NY Times:
It was an enormous victory for the rule of law, a major milestone in Mr. Obama’s efforts to close the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and an important departure from Mr. Bush’s disregard for American courts and their proven ability to competently handle high-profile terror cases.
Here's a typical reaction from an Obama supporter to criticism of Obama's decision:
I've simply never understood the right's weak-kneed panic over the U.S. justice system. From what I gather, the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed should be pretty easy to make in court, and securing a conviction is likely to be pretty easy. By giving this suspected monster a fair trial, we can prove to the world the strength of American values and the integrity of the American system.
It's all nonsense.

John Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, another supporter of Obama's decision, admits what we all know:
Finally, even in the extremely unlikely case that any of the five were acquitted of these charges, the government has a hundred other things it can charge them with. Indeed, the government could as easily turn them over to military commissions or indefinite detention post-acquittal as it can do those things with them now. That may not make civil libertarians happy. But it is the nail in the coffin of any suggestions that these guys are going to be walking out of the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan saying they're headed to Disneyland. It's simply not going to happen.
That's right. Put KSM on trial. And if he is acquitted by our civilian justice system, pick him up and keep him in indefinite detention if need be. Allahpundit and Patterico called it correctly days ago.

The lofty rhetoric about the rule of law is a sham. The KSM civilian trial is all about putting the Bush administration on trial in a public forum. With plausible deniability built in because KSM and his attorneys will do the Bush-basher's dirty work for them over the government's objections.

The decision also is another vote of "present" for Obama. Obama satisfies the left's desire for further public disclosure of the interrogation program, but it will take place as part of the civilian trial process, not as a result of an administration choice. If there is damage to our intelligence agencies from such disclosures, blame will be placed on a federal judge, not the Obama administration.

Using "the rule of law" for a political agenda is the ultimate disrespect for the rule of law. And in this case, another vote of "present."

Update: Andrew Sullivan agrees that the main purpose of a civilian trial is to put the Bush Administration on trial.

Related Posts:
9/11 Is So Kitschy
KSM's Opening Statement - Priceless To Him
Who We Are As A Nation - Nov. 2009 Edition

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  1. Actually it is more than voting "present." It is a concerted effort by the Obama adminsitration to undermine the war on terror and to make Islamic Jihadism just another "ism." It is the use of the civilian judicial system to undermine our intelligence gathering capabilities by this administration.They could not go forward with their so-called investigation of the CIA earlier this year because of the national political fiasco it created so they are trying an end run around reality to suit their potlitical goals.They endanger the lives of the people of this nation. Isn't there a provision in the Constitution dedicated to the purpose of protecting this nation from all enemies foreign and domestic? Anyone want to investigate that violation?

  2. I disagree that this trial in NYC will "put the Bush Administration on trial in a public forum" because, while that statement might well be the intention of some, the trial could potentially put the Obama administration in a much worse position.

    My opinion is that this trial will, of course, be a major domestic battle. Moreover, it will be a pivotal point in the war between Left and Right. The KSM trial will be a political Gettysburg. Each side and its journalist fellow travelers and media commentators will launch all out attacks on the other in full public view before the entire planet. No matter what outcome, both sides will claim victory; the Left for their progressive agenda, the Right in their accusation of evident international weakness of this administration.

    Regardless, if Rahm and Eric haven’t planned well then their decision to fight this battle as it unfolds in the months (and years) ahead will add unnecessary weight to the wave of national unhappiness with the left wing economic agenda come next November. And, God help them if Major Hasan has friends lurking in Gotham.

  3. I'm still stuck on jury selection. Does his lawyer not have any say in it? How imbecilic will the American legal system look when its turned into another OJ trial. Better yet, how are they going to be able to prevent him from getting his message out? They can't and still be holding to what they laud as American Justice.

    This counts as monumental stupidity and is indeed nothing else but a smoke screen for more of this current incarnation of POTUS creating a crisis when needed and he certainly does need one. His job numbers are being proven daily as pure fantasy. His Obama-care is proven to be the far left's dream come true and every centrist's worst nightmare, the bankruptcy of their children's America. The level of corruption in SEIU, ACORN and those of his puppeteers is turning up on the blogosphere daily much to his and their chagrin. I'd say there's reason to make the statement, "No president has needed a stream of crisis more so than Obama and if there isn't one to find cover under, he and his handlers have shown no hesitation towards creating one."

  4. FWIW Judge Andrew Napolitano also agrees that KSM should receive a civil trial in the US based on the Constitution. Since KSM is an individual and not a country, and since there is no declaration of war, he cannot be tried in a military court as an enemy combatant.

    He also pointed out that 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was also tried and found guilty in a US court and that this is the same circumstance since the act was committed on US soil.

    If this opinion of the law is indeed correct, those of us who stand behind the Constitution and point to it when the administration and congress violate it, cannot abandon it in a case like this because it is against what we want or what we should feel should happen.

  5. It's likely that the people who claim that this shows "the strength of American values" actually believe it, though what they mean by "American values" is really just the far left's values.

    By putting KSM on trial, they are showing not the strength of the criminal justice system but that that system is primary. They are proving (in their own minds) that the U.S. is a civilized country, not some evil war mongering, hate filled, jingoistic throwback barbarian country.

    It's an idiotic attitude but a perfectly consistent one for them to have.

  6. I don't understand how the administration can claim it will show the strength of American values, and then in the next breath they say they are certain to get the death penalty for him because he is indisputably that guilty. And if that does not work, then plan B, picking him up and keeping him indefinately is somehow the correct American thing to do.

    It is paradoxial, and disingenious. He is not going to get a fair trial the way OJ got his, in that he won't be allowed to walk around freely for a decade before picking him up and giving it to him for something petty when it is the first crime that was on trial.

    While I like the Judge, it sounds like he is alone in believing a trial here will be fair, for even Holder has predetermined the outcome.

  7. If the federa; government knows about all your supposed federal crimes but does not put you on trial for them at one time, but does Chinese water torture, isn't that a violation of double jeopardy or due process? If I have a lawsuit against someone and all the claims are ripe for adjudication, but I parse the causes of action so that I bring one to fruition and then if that fails I attempt to bring other related claims against the same defendants, wouldn't the defendants and/or the Court rule that by my failure to join these claims I am barred from bringing serial lawsuits? Will Obama be met with res judicata/collateral estoppel defenses? I mean if KSM and the others are found innocent or their speedy trial or violations of other alleged 'rights' bar this prosecution, how does the government go forward with other criminal prosecutions?