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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Look Who's Surrendering To Terrorists Now

When the Obama administration announced in November its intention to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several other 9/11 plotters on trial in a civilian court in downtown Manhattan, the decision was met with derision on the right.

There were two parts to that decision which were inextricably intertwined. First, was the decision to have a civilian trial, rather than a constitutionally acceptable military tribunal (under rules promulgated the prior spring by the Obama administration); second, was the location in downtown Manhattan, closest to the scene of the crime.

I say these justifications were inextricably intertwined because the decision was political from the get-go, to prove to the world that we could treat this case as any other criminal trial. And any other criminal trial would take place in the venue where the crime was committed (except in rare circumstances, such as where it was impossible to get a fair jury).

The concerns from the right about both the decision to hold a civilian trial and to locate that trial in downtown Manhattan were met with scorn by the left-blogosphere as a caving in to terrorists. Glenn Greenwald wrote (emphasis mine):

[T]he Right's reaction to yesterday's announcement -- we're too afraid to allow trials and due process in our country -- is the textbook definition of "surrendering to terrorists." It's the same fear they've been spewing for years. As always, the Right's tough-guy leaders wallow in a combination of pitiful fear and cynical manipulation of the fear of their followers. Indeed, it's hard to find any group of people on the globe who exude this sort of weakness and fear more than the American Right.

People in capitals all over the world have hosted trials of high-level terrorist suspects using their normal justice system. They didn't allow fear to drive them to build island-prisons or create special commissions to depart from their rules of justice.

When Sarah Palin issued a statement criticising the decision both as to holding a civilian trial and holding that trial in Manhattan, Spencer Ackerman demanded to know Who’s Afraid Of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed?

What’s an actual insult to the victims of 9/11 is the idea that America is not strong enough to withstand the blatherings of a mass murderer....

Glenn Greenwald, in a post that surpasses his usual high standards, diagnoses her very well: she’s given in to terrorism.
Looks who's surrendering to terrorism now:
The Obama administration on Friday gave up on its plan to try the Sept. 11 plotters in Lower Manhattan, bowing to almost unanimous pressure from New York officials and business leaders to move the terrorism trial elsewhere.
This must mean that the vast right-wing, soft-on-terrorism conspiracy controls New York, which necessarily will result in both Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand being defeated in November, to be replaced by Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

Or maybe it means that common sense has prevailed, at least as to trial location.

Related Posts:
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Scalia Was Right About Releasing Gitmo Detainees
Schumer Right Before He Was Wrong

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  1. I do not understand the concept of trying these people in a civil court. If the people are found guilty, then the world will say it was a show trial and the American justice is a joke. If they are found innocent, will they be allowed to leave without problem? Could any politician survive the backlash?

  2. I know someone who isn't going to be invited to Glenn Greenwald's parties any more.

  3. Professor sir, you resisted to respond to one of Greenwald's basic premise..that is that other capitals have held civilian terrorist trial, without the use of extralegal courts and out of the country holding cells, why can't the greatest country in the world do it? It seems that the current disagreement is with cost, which is the only reason I would elect to have the trial somewhere else. But fear is not one of them (reasons)

  4. Buckjohnson: I am not a lawyer but let me give it a stab. It is not complicated. It is not out of fear but in n the interest of enforcing established legal principal that terrorists are unlawful combatants and not entitled to any rights beyond summary execution by humane methods. It is well established law that their methods qualify them to be designated as such. Many German, Russian, French and others were executed in WWII under the same laws.

    We have the right to execute them on sight (summary execution) since they have no legal standing.

    The Bush administration voluntarily decided to grant them Geneva Convention rights by detaining them as unlawful combatants (rather than executing them on sight) to await trial by military tribunal.

    By deciding to treat them like ordinary criminals, the Obama administration is assigning them the rights of American citizenship on top of the rights normally afforded only to lawful combants, and thus making a mockery of our citizenship and to the Geneva convention. It is also empowering them by providing them with a global stage for spreading their message and thus inviting more terrorism.

    The rest of it, the unnecessary danger, enormous expense and general extended inconvenience, just makes it more urgent that we not take that route.

    Let's also not forget that our current attorney general's last job was as a senior partner in the very firm that jumps at every opportunity to defend terrorists. Obama is signaling to terrorists that they have friends in high places in America.

    How's that? Not bad for a BU grad with a Masters in International Finance eh? I leave it to the professor to correct anything that I got wrong.

  5. BTW, I consider not subjecting them to the summary execution they deserve and to which we have a legal right to impose as a potential surrender to terrorism. If we cannot question them without reading them their Miranda rights, we should just kill them in the field as we find them. See terrorist, kill terrorist. If a crowd of civilians closes in around them after allowing them escape, they are fair game too.

  6. BTW Buck, you might also want to read Powerline more often. Here is today's spot on essay on the subject of unecessarily spending $200 million for security.


  7. ripppppp

    ....and another blatherskite progressive gets bitten by his own words.

    These guys never give up... they just MoveOn.org it to the next trumped up scheme, ala Alan Colmes.

  8. pasadenaphil, the 911 five, alive, are turning out to be quite useful to non-progressives as a means by which the progressives soil themselves.

    The progressives labor under the false belief of their own propaganda they hold the moral high ground... that they have the ear and support of the Majority of American Voters.

    Let them keep pretending that as the clock ticks down to November 2, 2010; the progressives' coming day of reckoning.