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While the right wing loses its collective mind over the decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and a couple other 9/11 conspirators in federal court in New York, two former Bush DOJ officials puncture their empty fear mongering and defend the decision in the Washington Post. Jim Comey and Jack Goldsmith, deputy attorney general and assistant attorney general respectively during the Bush administration, first debunk the "this makes New York a target" nonsense:

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A trial in Manhattan will bring enormous media attention and require unprecedented security. But it is unlikely to make New York a bigger target than it has been since February 1993, when Mohammed's nephew Ramzi Yousef attacked the World Trade Center. If al-Qaeda could carry out another attack in New York, it would -- a fact true a week ago and for a long time.


And point out that there are many problems with the military commissions set up at Gitmo that make this decision perfectly reasonable:

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In deciding to use federal court, the attorney general probably considered the record of the military commission system that was established in November 2001. This system secured three convictions in eight years. The only person who had a full commission trial, Osama bin Laden's driver, received five additional months in prison, resulting in a sentence that was shorter than he probably would have received from a federal judge.

One reason commissions have not worked well is that changes in constitutional, international and military laws since they were last used, during World War II, have produced great uncertainty about the commissions' validity. This uncertainty has led to many legal challenges that will continue indefinitely -- hardly an ideal situation for the trial of the century.

By contrast, there is no question about the legitimacy of U.S. federal courts to incapacitate terrorists. Many of Holder's critics appear to have forgotten that the Bush administration used civilian courts to put away dozens of terrorists, including "shoe bomber" Richard Reid; al-Qaeda agent Jose Padilla; "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh; the Lackawanna Six; and Zacarias Moussaoui, who was prosecuted for the same conspiracy for which Mohammed is likely to be charged. Many of these terrorists are locked in a supermax prison in Colorado, never to be seen again.


And the "this will lead to secret information being released in public" argument:

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In terrorist trials over the past 15 years, federal prosecutors and judges have gained extensive experience protecting intelligence sources and methods, limiting a defendant's ability to raise irrelevant issues and tightly controlling the courtroom. Moussaoui's trial was challenging because his request for access to terrorists held at "black" sites had to be litigated. Difficulties also arose because Moussaoui acted as his own lawyer, and the judge labored to control him. But it is difficult to imagine a military commission of rudimentary fairness that would not allow a defendant a similar right to represent himself and speak out in court.

In either trial forum, defendants will make an issue of how they were treated and attempt to undermine the trial politically. These efforts are likely to have more traction in a military than a civilian court. No matter how scrupulously fair the commissions are, defendants will criticize their relatively loose rules of evidence, their absence of a civilian jury and their restrictions on the ability to examine classified evidence used against them. Some say it is wrong to give Mohammed trial rights ordinarily conferred on Americans, but a benefit of civilian trials over commissions is that they make it harder for defendants to complain about kangaroo courts or victor's justice...

Of course, the attorney general made a different call on Mohammed than did the Bush administration. The wisdom of that difficult judgment will be determined by future events. But Holder's critics do not help their case by understating the criminal justice system's capacities, overstating the military system's virtues and bumper-stickering a reasonable decision.


And if anyone thinks there's even the tiniest chance that KSM will be found not guilty, they are hopelessly naive. There's no way in hell the Obama administration does this without being 100% certain that they have the evidence to convict him in court. This is, in fact, a show trial - not in the sense of being a sham, it will be entirely legitimate and legal -- but in the sense of being done to show the rest of the world that we are making an attempt to live our convictions consistently and honestly.

The real argument here is the inconsistency; if we're doing that with KSM, why not with the other detainees too? But the right wing can't make that argument. So as with nearly every other issue in the last 6 months, they can't coherently make the legitimate argument against Obama's actions, so they're stuck with making the most ridiculous, overblown and exaggerated arguments.


Source.
Original Op-Ed by said Bush officials.
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Chad Ellis
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Koldfoot wrote:
If everything is a slam dunk, why isn't Obama taking responsibility for the decision? Why is Holder being set up to take the blame? Obama will get credit for a conviction, but the scene is being set for the AG to take any blame.


How would that work, exactly? Do you think Obama is going to say, "Hey, I didn't make the call...it was Holder! Someone find me a bus to throw that loser under..."

If this falls apart Obama will catch the blame, and he knows it.
 
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Good for them. It's heartening to see sane conservatives and not just the "Attack liberals on all fronts because they're the real enemies" kind.

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[It's] ... being done to show the rest of the world that we are making an attempt to live our convictions consistently and honestly.


And that's really the point right? How can we claim to support a free democracy (and wars being waged in its name) if we can't live under one?
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Bush himself said, at least on an international stage, that he wanted Gitmo closed and those there to be "tried in U.S. courts."

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bjlillo wrote:
puckhead wrote:
Bush himself said, at least on an international stage, that he wanted Gitmo closed and those there to be "tried in U.S. courts."


Well, if Bush said it, by God it must be right! You've convinced me.


I think the point is more that there was nowhere near the current level of right-wing outrage when Bush said it, which supports the hypothesis that the current level of RWO is partisan in nature and not based on principle.

(Unless the principle is "paint everything Obama does as automatically wrong," which sadly might be the only principle the GOP has left.)
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bjlillo wrote:
dysjunct wrote:
I think the point is more that there was nowhere near the current level of right-wing outrage when Bush said it, which supports the hypothesis that the current level of RWO is partisan in nature and not based on principle.


Saying it and doing it are two different things. Clinton talked a lot about freedom for Iraqis and even signed a law codifying the removal of Saddam Hussein as official US policy, yet lefties didn't protest in massive numbers until Bush actually did it.


This is just evidence of equally-partisan asshattery on the left.
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Consider that many of us lefties didn't protest until Bush actually did it due to the manner in which Bush actually did it. No one would agree that Saddam Hussein was a fair leader for his country, but a lot of us felt that the US had no business entering Iraq unilaterally.

As it began to appear that there were no WMDs, that the war was entered into under bad intelligence, and that certain contractors were making tons of money for inferior service that compromised the health and safety of our soldiers - well, you know.

When Bush the First went in, I didn't feel the need to voice displeasure. Obvious intelligence of wrongdoing by Iraq, UN backing, support from other countries. Not much to complain about there.
 
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Koldfoot wrote:
Complete and total misrepresentation without actually lying.

Just out of curiosity do you even believe what you wrote?

No where in that clip do you get the notion that Bush meant "Civilian courts". His very last statement makes it clear that this statement was made when the supreme court was still addressing the issue of venue. At the time he made that comment it was not at all clear whether the Gitmo detainees could even be tried in civilian courts.


Okay here's another quote on the same issue:

George Bush wrote:
But there are some that, if put out on the streets, would create grave harm to American citizens and other citizens of the world. And, therefore, I believe they ought to be tried in courts here in the United States. We will file such court claims once the Supreme Court makes its decision as to whether or not -- as to the proper venue for these trials. And we're waiting on our Supreme Court to act.


Yes, the Supreme Court was still working on a decision. But are you telling me that on the multiple times Bush refers to "U.S. courts" he is referring to military courts? I happen to firmly believe he means civilian courts. So yes, I do believe what I wrote.
 
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Koldfoot wrote:
These issues were resolve in RSP several years ago, and you are wrong on every point.

Your job is to defend Obama. Bush bashing is passe.


I'm not ready to defend Obama on this issue, nor am I Bush bashing. Merely commenting on the "lefties protesting in massive numbers" when Bush removed Saddam, as mentioned in an earlier post. Sometimes actually doing it isn't what causes the problems, but how you do it.

I'm still not certain what I feel about a civilian trial. Any confessions must be suspect due to waterboarding activities. I would also be hesitant to allow these people a mic on the International stage.

I only joined BGG earlier this year; I apologize for not reading all of the RSP threads as of yet!
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Llama Herder wrote:
I only joined BGG earlier this year; I apologize for not reading all of the RSP threads as of yet!


This is like apologizing for not putting a gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger. I mean, I appreciate your dedication, but really....
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dysjunct wrote:
Llama Herder wrote:
I only joined BGG earlier this year; I apologize for not reading all of the RSP threads as of yet!


This is like apologizing for not putting a gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger. I mean, I appreciate your dedication, but really....


Thank you! I have only 49 pages left in RSP, then I tackle Chit Chat!

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I'm lying. On both counts.

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Koldfoot wrote:
Considering that his administration was arguing against bringing the detainees onto US soil to get a civilian trial and that was well known news, I am left to deduce you are being insincere.

A better deduction may have been me being stupid. After a little research I agree with your interpretation. I'm sorry for tossing out a left-wing talking point that I hadn't vetted.
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bjlillo wrote:
Saying it and doing it are two different things. Clinton talked a lot about freedom for Iraqis and even signed a law codifying the removal of Saddam Hussein as official US policy, yet lefties didn't protest in massive numbers until Bush actually did it.


Had Clinton manufactured cause to invade, understaffed the occupation, and generally not had a plan to handle the post-war period, I suspect he would have caught about exactly as much flack as Mr. Bush did. From both sides of the aisle.

As you say, "saying it and doing it are two different things." President Clinton didn't actually remove Hussein from power despite an expressed policy making that a goal.
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puckhead wrote:
Bush himself said, at least on an international stage, that he wanted Gitmo closed and those there to be "tried in U.S. courts."


But didn't you hear? Now that he's of no use to the right, well, they never really liked him in the first place!
 
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More prominent conservatives endorse civilian trials for KSM:

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As it moves to close Guantanamo and develop policies for handling terrorism suspects going forward, the government should rely upon our established, traditional system of justice. This includes our system of federal prisons, which have repeatedly proven they can safely hold persons convicted of terrorism offenses.

We are confident that the government can preserve national security without resorting to sweeping and radical departures from an American constitutional tradition that has served us effectively for over two centuries.

Civilian federal courts are the proper forum for terrorism cases. Civilian prisons are the safe, cost effective and appropriate venue to hold persons convicted in federal courts. Over the last two decades, federal courts constituted under Article III of the U.S. Constitution have proven capable of trying a wide array of terrorism cases, without sacrificing either national security or fair trial standards.

Likewise the federal prison system has proven itself fully capable of safely holding literally hundreds of convicted terrorists with no threat or danger to the surrounding community.

The scaremongering about these issues should stop.

Using a state of the art but little used prison facility like the one at Thomson, Illinois - with any appropriate security upgrades our law enforcement professionals deem necessary - makes good sense for the tax payers who invested $145 million in the facility and who are seeing millions wasted every month at the costly, inefficient Guantanamo facility. It makes sense for the community which will benefit from the related employment and has absolutely no reason to fear that prisoners will escape or be released into their communities.

But most of all it makes sense for America because it is a critical link in the process of closing Guantanamo and getting this country back to using its tried and true, constitutionally sound institutions.

SIGNATORIES:
Bob Barr, Member of U.S. Congress (R-GA), 1995-2003; CEO, Liberty Strategies, LLC; the 21st Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy, the American Conservative Union, 2003- 2008; Chairman, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances; Practicing Attorney

David Keene, Chairman, American Conservative Union; Member, Board of Directors, National Rifle Association

Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform


At this rate, by the end of the year all the pro-military court people here will be claiming they supported civilian trials all along!
 
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Koldfoot wrote:
On one hand he feels the need to do something in order to satisfy his constituency, on the other hand he has had a few security briefings on the subject and sees the need to cover his ass for this bad decision.


Why, exactly, is it a bad decision?
 
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