Friday, March 05, 2010

Criminal Approach to Terror Vindicated... So Why Abandon It?

Apologies for the blogging hiatus, which will only get worse as the month rolls on - I'll be leaving for New Orleans on Sunday and not returning until after St. Patrick's Day. Probably no blogging while I'm down there.

Anyway, as I've reported in previous posts, the Obama administration's treatment of Najibullah Zazi and Captain Underpants Umar Abdulmutallab has, like the case of Richard Reid before them, vindicated the idea of treating terrorism as a crime. Both suspects were put through the legal system with little to no problems; both are cooperative and are giving good intelligence. Furthermore, as the judge who put away Reid pointed out, treating terrorists as criminals delegitimizes them, while treating them as soldiers gives them more legitimacy than they deserve. Oh, and it also proves to the rest of the world that the American system of government is so robust that even the most heinous acts of violence can't shake it.

To sum, the criminal approach to terrorism a) leads to useful intelligence, b) delegitimizes terrorists, c) makes us look good, and d) works. So the Obama administration is reacting to the overwhelming good news about the criminal approach by... abandoning it?
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.
OK, first, I don't see how giving a military tribunal to someone who is not even remotely related to military activity makes a lick of sense. Second, you know you've made a bad move when even the people in the military commissions office are ripping into you:
Marine Col. Jeffrey Colwell, acting chief defense counsel at the Defense Department's Office of Military Commissions, said it would be a "sad day for the rule of law" if Obama decides not to proceed with a federal trial. "I thought the decision where to put people on trial -- whether federal court or military commissions -- was based on what was right, not what is politically advantageous," Colwell said.
Third, how on earth is America helped by not putting KSM and his cronies on trial? What risk is there to doing so? What do we gain by using a military tribunal when the criminal justice system is more than adequate? It makes absolutely no sense to me. There's no legitimate reason why KSM can't be tried in a criminal court (and spare me the tired "but we're at war" rhetoric, it has no place here). This seems like nothing more than a craven move to score political points by Obama - but in reality, it's just caving in to conservative concern trolling. The playground bullies on the right just stuffed Obama in a locker, kids. Let's all point and laugh... and wonder why the hell we ever elected someone so spineless as our president.

In other news...

It's difficult to believe that sentient beings wrote and produced this video:

The stupidity here is absurd. Let's start with the cartoonishly vapid name of the organization, "Keep America Safe." Makes "Americans for Puppies and Apple Pie" seem deep and meaningful. Moving on, let's address the meaning of the video, which is that someone who represents Gitmo detainees in court is a terrorist sympathizer. The entire idea falls apart under the most cursory inspection - first, not all Gitmo detainees are terrorists, and second, lawyers don't have to sympathize with someone to take their case. I half expect the next ad from this group to accuse Ted Bundy's lawyers of being serial killer sympathizers. Or John Adams of being a Redcoat sympathizer.

Moving on...

"Mr Wilders has called Islam a backward religion, wants a ban on headscarves in public life and has compared the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf." Ladies and gentlemen, your frontrunner for Dutch prime minister! One wonders how the British will handle state visits from the Dutch should Wilders win, seeing as how he's banned from entering the UK.

Oh, and Dutch? You play dirty football too.

Well, if all these stories prove anything, it's that this song continues to be relevant:

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