Obama/Emanuel Blunder on KSM Trial

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The defining personality of the George W. Bush administration was his Vice President, Dick Cheney. And the man who enabled Cheney and built out the architecture of “the dark side” of a nightmarish purgatory beyond American or international law was his chief of staff David Addington.
President Obama, his former White House Counsel Gregory Craig, and others on the Obama national security team promised to dismantle not only the institutions that Cheney and Addington built that are the antithesis of an American commitment to human rights and habeas corpus but to reverse the mindset that got us into Iraq to begin with.
Regrettably, with the news of Rahm Emanuel trying to cut deals with Senator Lindsey Graham resulting in the prosecution of GITMO detainees in military tribunals, we are seeing the affirmation of Addington and Cheney’s work, not its dismantlement.
NPR’s Don Gonyea captures this in the clip above in which this writer was briefly queried.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

44 comments on “Obama/Emanuel Blunder on KSM Trial

  1. nadine says:

    Paul there is indeed a disagreement: one side takes Al Qaeda and the other Islamic Militants seriously when they declare jihad against the US, the other does not treat them seriously, but insists they are only a few criminals, that you can’t have a war without a state to fight. But this is not the first war against non-state actors loosely tied to state sponsors.
    The GWOT should be compared to America’s first international war, against the Barbary pirates. There too you had Islamic militants cooperating with corrupt Islamic regimes to attack America. There, too there was no formal declaration of war (nothing even so much as Osama bin Laden’s internet declaration of war against the US) but a declaration of a right of conquest bestowed by Allah, unto the ending of the world:
    “…one cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that “it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” (It is worth noting that the United States played no part in the Crusades, or in the Catholic reconquista of Andalusia.)
    Ambassador Abd Al-Rahman did not fail to mention the size of his own commission, if America chose to pay the protection money demanded as an alternative to piracy. So here was an early instance of the “heads I win, tails you lose” dilemma, in which the United States is faced with corrupt regimes, on the one hand, and Islamic militants, on the other—or indeed a collusion between them.”
    http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_2_urbanities-thomas_jefferson.html

    Reply

  2. Paul Norheim says:

    Drew, I think this has less to do with knowledge of history than
    with a fundamental disagreement.
    “…check out Lincoln and FDR if you want to see executive
    overreach.”
    This only makes sense if you regard America post 9/11 as
    similar to the situation in WW2 or during the civil war, which I
    don’t.
    Secondly, the extension of presidential power under Bush jr.
    was legitimated by the GWOT – a war they themselves
    suggested may last for generations – i.e. permanently. This
    makes the case very different from WW2 or other extraordinary
    circumstances.
    Terrorism is a permanent factor in our societies; world wars are
    not.

    Reply

  3. drew says:

    Look, Paul Norheim, Bush/Cheney were pikers compared to some
    of the more highly praised of U.S. presidents. I am not a high
    school history teacher so I’m not going to bother with this, other
    than to say, check out Lincoln and FDR if you want to see executive
    overreach. If you haven’t read the history, you probably want to
    hold fire on the opinions about that history. I assumed you were
    more familiar with American history, hence my interaction.

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    Sweetness, it would be one thing to question my knowledge if I was holding forth on some arcane point of law. I was pointing out some rather obvious points; at least, I thought they were obvious, but maybe not to someone who is deciding policy by feelings rather than thought.
    If KSM gets a civilian trial, he gets discovery. If he gets discovery, he gets to go on a fishing expedition regarding the evidence against him, limited only by his lawyer’s competence and the judge’s ruling. Since there are so many left-wing lawyers so eager to volunteer to defend Al Qaeda, I think we can assume KSM would have a competent lawyer, probably very competent.
    Now, who has the evidence against KSM? The CIA and the JAGs tending the case at Gitmo. Might they have true security-based objections to making the evidence and the means they used to obtain it, public? Why, yes, they might. They might be using some of the same informants in other operations, for instance, and be reluctant to expose them and possibly get them killed. Might most of the evidence have been obtained in a fashion that would be instantly thrown out of court if a NYPD cop tried it? Why yes, enhanced interrogation techniques and all that. Might a local NY Federal district judge not be the best-versed person to decide on any of these matters, having spent his life adjudicating ordinary criminals, who are not part of a terrorist network devoted to harming United States interests and committing mass murder? Just possibly, one would think.
    And you know what? You don’t have to know arcane points of law to understand any of that. But you do have to employ some thought. And btw, those alleged 200 successful trials of terrorists?
    Nearly all of them were of terrorist-supporters, like the Holy Land Foundation trial, so they were more like money-laundering trials than terrorist trials. The ones that weren’t, like the Mousawi trial or the Blind Sheikh trial, were nobody’s model of how well the civilian justice system works for terrorists. Andy McCarthy has all the specialized knowledge you could want, if you don’t ‘disqualify’ him for reaching the ‘wrong’ conclusions.

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    Drew also said:
    “Paul Norheim, that’s a great jeremiad about our tinhorn evil
    empire here. I’d like to avoid walking you through the history,
    which is bipartisan, of executive privilege and the unitary
    ambitions of American presidents. It wasn’t invented by Bush
    and Cheney.”
    Sure, Reagan referred explicitly to the “unitary executive” at least
    once, but this extreme interpretation of the US constitution
    became the trademark of the Bush/Cheney years (thanks to
    Cheney’s chief of staff Addington), under which both the POTUS’
    and the VP’s powers were alarmingly increased – “alarmingly”…
    that is, if you appreciate democratic governments.

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Drew said:
    “I’m sardonic for a reason. The outrage over whether or not
    we’re being decent to KSM or other Hotel Gitmo folks (which to
    me is down-the-rabbit-hole stuff, but whatever) has an
    unintended consequence: enthusiasm for capturing bad guys
    has fled. Far easier to just kill them and hope you got the right
    ones. This is bad for both sides: the guy who gets killed, and
    the USA that no longer gathers intelligence.”
    Using the same twisted logic, one may argue that it would be
    much better just to use those drones, to avoid the inevitable
    consequence of not killing them: that the patriotic CIA-people
    torture them instead. The latter alternative would be bad for
    both sides: the guy who gets tortured, and the USA getting
    more bad PR.
    —————-
    “I agree, Holder shouldn’t signal that KSM is guilty before tried.”
    (Sweetness)
    Sure. But why did he do so? Because large parts of the American
    media demanded a waterproof guaranty that he’d be found
    guilty – i.e. not going through the ordinary court procedures
    that is an essential part of the “Western values” we pride ourself
    with.
    The position of all these people in the US, Europe, Australia,
    and elsewhere, who argue for undermining core values in
    Western societies with the aim of fighting those who threaten
    the same values, is not credible, and should be addressed.
    These people may believe in freedom as in “free markets”, just
    like George W. Bush, but that seems to be about the only
    feature of Western societies they appreciate.

    Reply

  7. drew says:

    Paul Norheim, that’s a great jeremiad about our tinhorn evil
    empire here. I’d like to avoid walking you through the history,
    which is bipartisan, of executive privilege and the unitary
    ambitions of American presidents. It wasn’t invented by Bush
    and Cheney.
    That said, the policy of simply killing non-state actors, as you
    archly recommend, rather than attempting to capture them, so
    that they can play soccer and ping pong at Gitmo before being
    transferred somewhere else, is well in effect. Obama has
    directed the UAV war to kill terrorist personnel without reserve.
    Now, if a SEAL is alleged to have punched a captured terrorist in
    the stomach, we’re going to court martial him. But if the CIA
    just blows up half a dozen people with a missile launched from
    a drone, we cut a finer moral point and everything is cool.
    I’m sardonic for a reason. The outrage over whether or not
    we’re being decent to KSM or other Hotel Gitmo folks (which to
    me is down-the-rabbit-hole stuff, but whatever) has an
    unintended consequence: enthusiasm for capturing bad guys
    has fled. Far easier to just kill them and hope you got the right
    ones. This is bad for both sides: the guy who gets killed, and
    the USA that no longer gathers intelligence.
    Such is the real world consequence of treating KSM as some sort
    of abused juvenile delinquent, being picked on by the meany
    USA, and being denied the rights and privileges in court of
    American citizens. If capturing people means your career (as a
    soldier, spy or apparatchik) is threatened, the next time there’s
    an election, well, you don’t capture people. And that’s what the
    UAVs and many of the Special Forces teams are up to these days.

    Reply

  8. Sweetness says:

    Nadine writes: “No, DonS, attacking an argument by saying the other guy (or gal) is not a valid messenger is ad hominem argument. That’s what you did.”
    Questioning a witness’s or expert’s credibility is perfectly valid. Happens in court all the time, and is a perfectly fine tactic. To my mind, it doesn’t PROVE the case…

    Reply

  9. Sweetness says:

    Kotz writes: “Those above who tend to support a civilian prosecution for the Sheikh are fugitives from reality and are impresarios of a burlesque play, especially after members of the administration like the Press Secretary and the Attorney General publicly declared him to be guilty. And as Nadine hints, the way to hellishly bankrupt arguments, on this issue, is paved with good intentions.”
    But Kotz, according to reports, there have been something like 200 successful prosecutions of terrorists in federal courts. What of them?
    I agree, Holder shouldn’t signal that KSM is guilty before tried. But do we think that the call to try him in a military court is based on a presumption of innocence? AFAIK, there is a presumption of innocence in military court, but the right couldn’t be very much interested in that when they demand KSM be tried there.
    Carroll, yes, there is lots of circularity to their argument. If there is a war, the enemy should be composed of soldiers who should be released after the war is over. Unfortunately, this war is, by definition, endless. Whenever a new terrorist group pops up and pulls off an action, the war is on again. Moreover, they need these soldiers to be soldiers and not-soldiers at the same time, so they aren’t due their Geneva rights. As I recall, not all soldiers in the Continental Army wore uniforms–were they “enemy combatants?”
    Maybe we need Jonathan Turley to chime in here…

    Reply

  10. jonst says:

    Nadine,
    I did not object to you pointing out that Mr Mohammad had certain rights to “discovery”. Of course he does. What I objected to was your next sentence in the post. You wrote: ” “Once he he has discovery rights, he gets to make public CIA intelligence operations that (hopefully) the CIA is still trying to use against Al Qaeda, rendering them useless”. You don’t know that. Only a judge will decide that. And the US govt has many cards to play to prevent what you worry about happening. And by the way Nadine….do you realize how long Mr Mohammad has been out of circulation now? I suspect alot of information from him, about him, and about his friends is out of date. Discovery looks to the past…not the future.
    As to Mr Andrew McCarthy, he is another in a long line of disingenuous, self promoting, wanna be media super stars. Dems have them. GOP has them. NeoCons have them. NeoLiberals have them. They might be the wisest and insightful jurist that that ever passed the bar……but their job now is to give their base what they want. Their commentary is worthless (to me) except to the extent that signals what they think the base wants to hear. This is big business Nadine…not real analysis. And this kind of mentality got us in the position the US is in now.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    Posted by Maw of America, Mar 06 2010, 6:21PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yes you are right.
    They would have won.
    In many ways they have already won.

    Reply

  12. nadine says:

    “Maybe there are some constitutional attorneys on board who can clear some of this this up.
    The only time in my memory that the US held foreign prisoners on US soil which Gitmo effectively is was WWII “prisoners of war’ and they were treated according to international law.
    They were captured on foreign soil and imprisoned on American soil. They were released at the end of the war.” (Carroll)
    There were NOT given Constitutional rights, lawyers, or civilian trials.
    “The Gitmo prisoners were fighters captured on foreign soil and imprisoned on US territory.
    Except these foreign captures are called terrorist.
    I guess the defintion of terrorist in this case being not having a uniform to wear.”
    Not wearing a uniform or some insignia, and not carrying arms openly. Legal vs. illegal combatants are defined in the Fourth Geneva Convention, with certain protections defined for legal combatants, but not illegal combatants.
    “It appears to me they are trying to put something to bed by singling out a ‘mastermind’ to hold accountable for whatever”
    It seems that Holder wanted a show trial for his good intentions, and was too stupid to realize that it would have been a propaganda coup for Al Qaeda and KSM. Not to mention a guarantee that the CIA would stop conducting any anti-terrorism operations whatsoever, lest they wound up testifying at the next show trial.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What the hell does this despicable bigot Nadine know about “core values”?

    Reply

  14. Carroll says:

    Someone with a better memory than mine might correct me but I don’t think the US has had any ‘precedent’ for this. The closest would be I think the civilian trial of the first WTC bombing.
    Maybe there are some constitutional attorneys on board who can clear some of this this up.
    The only time in my memory that the US held foreign prisoners on US soil which Gitmo effectively is was WWII “prisoners of war’ and they were treated according to international law.
    They were captured on foreign soil and imprisoned on American soil. They were released at the end of the war.
    The Gitmo prisoners were fighters captured on foreign soil and imprisoned on US territory.
    Except these foreign captures are called terrorist.
    I guess the defintion of terrorist in this case being not having a uniform to wear.
    And it doesn’t look like Obama will declare a official end to the GWOT so there is not law or precedent for their release.
    It appears to me they are trying to put something to bed by singling out a ‘mastermind’ to hold accountable for whatever satisfaction.
    In which case if he is a being accused of being a terrortist mastermind and is not treated as or recongized as a legitmate military individual or a prisoner of war and there are no grounds to refer him to the ICC for war crimes then he should be tried in a civilian court.
    It would be setting a “precedent” it seems to me if was to be tried in miliary court.
    A very bad precedent.
    *Note to foreign countries,
    Have your nation declare something simple that can be kept at hand like a scarf of certain color as their emergency uniforms to identify you as a regular solider in your country’s military so the next time we invade you we won’t have these problems.

    Reply

  15. kotzabasis says:

    “The administration has long” WRONGLY “argued that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in civilian court.” Clemons of course would b loathe to admit that Obama’s administration might have realized its great mistake politically and strategically to prosecute Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court and is ready to be corrected for its stupendous error by “the dark side” methods of Cheney/Eddington, which politically and strategically were always on the CORRECT side.
    Those above who tend to support a civilian prosecution for the Sheikh are fugitives from reality and are impresarios of a burlesque play, especially after members of the administration like the Press Secretary and the Attorney General publicly declared him to be guilty. And as Nadine hints, the way to hellishly bankrupt arguments, on this issue, is paved with good intentions.

    Reply

  16. nadine says:

    “This continues to be an argument petitio principii.”
    Not at all. The proposition under question is whether, before 2001, American Constitutional protections were given under US law to people, esp. combatants, who were not US citizens or resident aliens; and whether they deserve them now. The historical situation is demonstrable by precedent. The onus of proof rests on the side that wants to change the definition.

    Reply

  17. DonS says:

    “If you are going to make the novel argument that every person in the whole world is entitled to American constitutional protections, you need to explain why you think that and how it’s supposed to work. Because until now, American constitutional protections have been reserved for American citizens or aliens legally residing in America.”
    Nadine, you have merely repeated yourself. This continues to be an argument petitio principii.

    Reply

  18. Paul Norheim says:

    Of course this didn’t start with the KSM trial debate; it started
    literally on 9.11, when Addington ordered Yoo to work overtime
    to undermine the core values of Western societies, because
    these values now were regarded as mere obstacles.
    Of course John Yoo started his work by focusing on the
    legal/illegal combatants issue, the declaration of war issue
    (which he had studied in detail for years), the Geneva
    Conventions, Gitmo, and torture.
    And in teamwork with Addington, undermining the democracy
    by creating the “unitary executive” theory, placing the POTUS
    above the law, and the enemy combatants in a legal limbo.
    It continued with the decision to use 9.11 as an opportunity to
    invade Iraq – an unrelated issue – and it obviously continues to
    this day, thanks to the current President’s apparent lack of
    belief in those core values that Cheney and his men
    undermined. As for the powers of the POTUS, Obama has
    already extended them by giving himself the authority to kill
    Americans in the context of the war on terror.
    And now we are waiting for the attack on Iran, followed by
    Petraeus’ brand new Ir/Ir strategy before being nominated as a
    presidential candidate.
    As I said: They should be honest and shoot Khalid Sheikh
    Mohammed like a dog, instead of pretending that they still
    believe in those old fashioned ideas of justice and democracy.

    Reply

  19. nadine says:

    No, DonS, attacking an argument by saying the other guy (or gal) is not a valid messenger is ad hominem argument. That’s what you did.
    “Well aren’t you just the fine one, Nadine, to lecture Paul on the ins and outs of the law, as if you had a clue as to what you are talking about.”
    So was I wrong about discovery? or the jury pool? or Holder not explaining when you could use a military tribunal and when you couldn’t? or the absurdity of holding a civilian trial “to uphold our principles” and then announcing beforehand that the defendant will be found guilty? You didn’t say.
    “KSM never would have been slated for civilian trial if their hadn’t been serious and important legal principles involved that dictated why a civilian venue was proper and significant.”
    So why has Holder been unable to explain which legal principles are involved, and why? For that matter, why can’t you? This is a statement of faith, not an argument.
    If you are going to make the novel argument that every person in the whole world is entitled to American constitutional protections, you need to explain why you think that and how it’s supposed to work. Because until now, American constitutional protections have been reserved for American citizens or aliens legally residing in America.

    Reply

  20. DonS says:

    I haven’t attacked you personally Nadine; you would know it if I had. I attacked your method of argument. As to the substance of the legal arguments, there is more than enough available to educate you on the issues if you are interested.

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    DonS, all you have done is attack me personally without addressing any of the points I have made. Argument by ad hominem is a sign of weakness and confusion.

    Reply

  22. nadine says:

    jonst, I suggest you read Andrew McCarthy for insight on what a civilian trial of KSM would entail. McCarthy is in a position to know, having been the prosecutor of the ‘blind sheikh’ trial in the 1990s, after the first attack on the World Trade Center.
    I don’t understand your objection to my pointing out that KSM would get discovery rights in a civilian trial. That comes with the package, like a right to appeal. The only person who could limit those rights is a civilian judge, who might not understand the implications to CIA methods and assets. Read McCarthy and he will explain it.

    Reply

  23. DonS says:

    Well aren’t you just the fine one, Nadine, to lecture Paul on the ins and outs of the law, as if you had a clue as to what you are talking about. KSM never would have been slated for civilian trial if their hadn’t been serious and important legal principles involved that dictated why a civilian venue was proper and significant.
    KSM is a twisted and tortured (literally and figuratively) tale, and Paul is closer to the truth in alluding to ‘core values’ involved than you are in conflating KSM with ‘the Constitutional rights of American citizens’. If it were as plain as you make out the issues would have been decided a long time ago and decisively. There is a logical term for the sort of deception in your thinking: petitio pricipii; begging the question; its fallacious.

    Reply

  24. nadine says:

    “Will someone explain how the guy can get a fair trial after the press sec’y of the President says on TV he will be convicted and executed for his crimes? I thought our values included a presumption of innocence and this was all about defending our values.” (Alan K)
    You’d have thought that Holder could at least have prepared an internally consistent case, e.g.: we have to presume KSM innocent and try him in civilian court because military tribunals are no good. Instead Holder says military tribunals are good sometimes, but can’t explain when you use them and when you don’t. Holder could have said, we still have evidence against KSM even if the interrogation results are thrown out, but even if the judge throws everything out, it’s an illustration of our commitment to our values. Instead Holder promises that KSM will be found guilty and executed. Great, so our new “core value” is show trials?
    I have heard the pro-civilian trial argument made in a coherent fashion by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. I don’t have to agree with the argument to acknowledge that it is cogent and has good points in it. You’d have thought Holder could at least have memorized the main talking points. Instead he just made a complete hash of it.

    Reply

  25. nadine says:

    Paul, it has never been a “core value” of America to give the Constitutional rights of American citizens to foreign combatants, legal or illegal, who are waging war against America. German POWs didn’t get civilian trials in WWII. If they were out-of-uniform saboteurs, they got tried by a military tribunal and then hung. Which, btw, is what the Geneva Conventions say you can do with out-of-uniform saboteurs.
    This is just one of those new standards transnational progressives like to make up as they go along to say that America is always wrong.

    Reply

  26. Maw of America says:

    This is epic fail by Team Obama. I have written and called Eric Holder’s office, if for no other reason than to vent to someone other than my dogs.
    I’ve had many reasons to feel disappointment in the letdowns by Obama, but this is one that may break this camel’s back. I, too, heard the NPR report and agree that it puts Obama in a very bad position, whatever the ultimate outcome of the decision.
    From the very beginning, I’ve been uncomfortable with the administration’s guarantee that KSM would be executed (implicitly or otherwise). But I do know that, in the stratospherically unlikely event that he should ever walk free, that would be preferable to him being tried in anything other than a civilian court.
    If that should occur, then the terrorists will have truly won.

    Reply

  27. DonS says:

    Jonst, Well of course it really doesn’t matter all that much about a verdict in any eventual trial, although it’s hard to imagine the presence of so many technical flaws that a final adjudication is ever reached without glossing over all that. But it also doesn’t matter in the sense that KSM has certainly won if the goal is to be a high profile showcase for the sick political underbelly of the US, and the infection spreading within the judicial system (not that the judicial system ever could pretend to be ‘just’, but as a model it did have a fair reputation among nations).

    Reply

  28. Carroll says:

    Posted by jonst, Mar 06 2010, 3:03PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Ditto.
    Totally agree.
    Can of scapegoat worms for the most part.

    Reply

  29. Paul Norheim says:

    The KSM story in all it’s aspects shows that America doesn’t
    believe in one of it’s core values anymore – from Barack Obama to
    Joe Sixpack.
    Why don’t you just shoot him like a dog, instead of performing
    this sad ritual?

    Reply

  30. Alan K says:

    Will someone explain how the guy can get a fair trial after the press sec’y of the President says on TV he will be convicted and executed for his crimes? I thought our values included a presumption of innocence and this was all about defending our values.

    Reply

  31. jonst says:

    Drew,
    Not following you re how I validated Nadine point.
    DonS,
    I am not sure at all there is a “good chance” Mr Mohammad will “beat the rap”.
    And personally, while I know it is untenable politically to let him “walk away”, as it has been to let Col Noriega walk away after he finished his sentence, I could care less really if he walked or not. I don’t think he is a, or thee, “mastermind” of anything. I think he is a tiny cog in a rickety, but once effective, machine. Except that the Bush Admin, and the media for their own reasons chose to puff him up. Fine. Illusion and self deception…but fine. It is too late now, by god now he IS thee “mastermind”.

    Reply

  32. DonS says:

    Drew, there is just as good a chance that KSM would beat the rap in a military trial because of torture-coerced testimony. But you are just kidding yourself if you think that under any result, condition or circumstances KSM will every walk free. Ain’t gonna happen. If nothing else, the prosecution will involve so many ‘lesser included charges’ that he will be detained on those forever. Baring all else there will be mental exams and findings that would be produced to warrant a mental health detention. He’s not walking. And this is not about anything to do with freeing him, don’t you think, as it is to do with paranoid politicos, vengeance, and more right wing influence over the judicial system.

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Uh oh, those nasty old Constitutional protections that used to define the American justice system are getting stuck in the bigot Nadine’s craw.
    In Nadine’s world, the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim, and the live ones certainly don’t deserve the same legal protections that actual humans do.

    Reply

  34. drew says:

    Jonst,
    I think you just validated Nadine’s point, stating that “perhaps”
    KSM (who is not, DonS, a “common criminal”, and I would be
    careful about insulting a guy like that in that manner) would
    beat a criminal law-based rap. Well, if he beats the charges, and
    we don’t want him to walk out of the courtroom a free man, it
    would seem to leave us with the option of rendition to
    someplace unpleasant. Rendition by this administration would
    certainly be ironic.
    I don’t think Holder and Obama thought this through, but
    whether or not they did, they surely don’t understand what
    citizens think about all this. They are comically tone-deaf. Now
    they’ve done the only thing they could have done to make their
    situation worse: they said, “Hey, just kidding, prior statements
    are inoperative, we’ll get back to you.” This is a cat they can’t
    walk back.
    –drew

    Reply

  35. DCPolitico says:

    Steve,
    When you launched Edward Luce’s Financial Times into the stratosphere and gave his analysis the kind of legs no one else would give it in fear of losing chum-chum status with Axe, Valerie, Gibbs, and Rahm, I thought you were crazy and that this was an invented palace intrigue that was not politically significant.
    I have to tip my hat to you again. I thought you were off base when you started hammering on John Bolton and I was wrong on that too.
    You have a clear talent for seeing the soft spots in political machines and know which battles to pick that will out the policy battles you think are important. In this case, health care, GITMO, and the tribunals among other policy debates.
    I just wanted to say that your friends in the 24/7 DC Watch community are proud of you on this one. It’s amazing to watch the effect of the balling bowl you so skillfully rolled in the direction of the Oval Office and the continuing after effects of what you and Edward Luce triggered.
    You didn’t cause this mess. You revealed it. And we all owe you something for that kind of brave reporting and opinion shaping on the edge.

    Reply

  36. Sweetness says:

    Well, call my one, still-loyal Obama supporter who is very disappointed in this. So unnecessary.
    Nadine, you then have to explain why and how the something like 200 trials of terrorists have been SUCCESSFULLY concluded in federal court.

    Reply

  37. DonS says:

    Great analysis DBK.
    On News Hour last night, Michael Gerson was on (instead of Brooks!) with Mark Shields.
    Both of them opined that they had never seen any COS act in the way Emanuel has and is acting, and suggested that the President would have to respond to this direct challenge to his image and his authority.
    Interesting how clearly aligned these opinionators were, and that this flap is front page inside the beltway. Shields did say he could not see Emanuel being dropped in the middle of the health care debate . . . but soon thereafter.
    ****************
    This whole KSM blunder is so egregious on many levels, not the least in elevating a (allegedly) common criminal into a rock star with military status.

    Reply

  38. jonst says:

    Nadine,
    You are either clueless, but opinionated, about US and NY state law, or you are disingenuous. Your sweeping assertions (“once he gets discovery…”)(“the judge will have to throw out all of the evidence…”) (“..the whole country turned into a tainted jury pool..”)
    As they say in law school Nadine, ‘and your authority for that statement is?’
    The law does not lend itself such sweeping pronouncements. PERHAPS the things you fear might come to fruition. PERHAPS not.
    While not dismissing completely your concerns the law, especially, federal criminal law, is not the helpless pitiful giant you make it out to be. You really should study a bit about it.

    Reply

  39. DakotabornKansan says:

    Why the Obama/Emanuel Blunder on KSM Trial is such a big deal [as highlighted by Scott Horton/Rahm’s Masterstroke/Harpers/March 5, 11:27 AM, 2010]:
    •In sharp violation of rules of prosecutorial conduct and ethics, political figures in the White House are engaged in the micromanagement of decisions concerning the prosecution of individual criminal defendants. Rahm Emanuel is a political figure, without any serious legal expertise or abilities. He openly presented the question as a matter of political opportunity—thereby infecting the criminal justice system with political horse-trading. This is more than just unseemly. It presents a direct affront to the integrity of the criminal justice system. After eight years in which Karl Rove manipulated essential prosecutorial decisions at Justice, now his successor is engaged in the same type of misconduct. But unlike Rove, Emanuel does it openly.
    •The attorney general’s decision as to where and how to go about presenting these cases, which rested on the professional analysis of the Justice Department, is being overturned as part of a political deal. Emanuel is placing the attorney general in a humiliating position where the only honorable thing he can do is resign. That’s a masterstroke for a White House chief of staff.
    •Emanuel’s implicit assumption that this bargain will loosen up opposition to the closing of Guantánamo looks highly problematic and perhaps even foolish. By agreeing to try these high-profile cases before a military commission, he is actually strengthening the hand of those insisting that Guantánamo be kept open—because the infrastructure for these trials is already in place at Guantánamo.
    •Emanuel is reinforcing the growing public impression that the Obama White House isn’t serious about any of the high principles Obama articulated during the 2008 presidential campaign, and instead is prepared to compromise on any of them for some short-term and doubtful tactical advantage in Congressional votes.
    Horton concludes, “Rahm Emanuel’s amen chorus at the Washington Post want to present him as a skillful dealmaker who can get things done and who understands the art of compromise. But if his scheme goes into effect, he will do tremendous damage to the administration’s reputation with some of its key constituencies. Will he get anything in exchange? That’s unlikely. Some deal. Some chief of staff.”
    Boston Review/FEBRUARY 24, 2010/ Michael Gecan’s “Obama’s Chicago Tactics”
    has some interesting analysis: “The first quarter of the Obama administration is finally over. The key issue was not health care, not terrorism, not jobs. Nor was it the promise of “transformational change” that permeated the presidential campaign. The key issue was power—how the power of Washington’s political culture would respond to the power of the Chicago political culture imported by the Obama team….The president packed his staff with those who grew up in the unique political culture of Chicago and Cook County, one of the last remaining islands of machine domination in the nation. When the machine went to Washington, it did what it has always done and what worked back home: try to crush or co-opt opponents, project and promote the image of a mythic leader, tightly control the media, and rely on those who helped win the election. The disarray that the administration finds itself in after its first year is a direct result of the failure of this culture to function under new circumstances…. After all, power, properly understood, is still just that: the ability to act.”
    Obama, who rose like a rocket, is falling like a stick.

    Reply

  40. DonS says:

    Feingold, don’t try KSM in military courts:
    http://news.firedoglake.com/2010/03/05/feingold-dont-try-ksm-in-a-military-commission/
    Another horrible dem capitulation to fear?
    Jeralyn’s had it:
    http://www.talkleft.com/story/2010/3/4/233615/0555
    Nadine, you and your fear mongering colleagues are so wrong, so cowardly, and so corrosive of everything that’s left of American democracy. And your astroturf talking points do you no credit.

    Reply

  41. nadine says:

    “Excluding the tactical stuff though, this is a
    major strategic mistake, UNLESS the Obama
    administration is afraid of a KSM defense that
    makes public a perspective on U.S. foreign policy
    in the Middle East that doesn’t comport with what
    Americans want”
    Josh, that’s not the reason that giving KSM a civilian trial is such a horrendous idea. It’s that once he’s in civilian court, he gets discovery rights. Once he he has discovery rights, he gets to make public CIA intelligence operations that (hopefully) the CIA is still trying to use against Al Qaeda, rendering them useless.
    Also, in civilian court, the judge will have to throw out all evidence against KSM that is declared “fruit of the poisoned tree.” Since KSM
    was waterboarded, that may be all the evidence.
    Eric Holder also declared KSM guilty on TV and promised he would be found guilty, turning the whole country into a tainted jury pool, as if a New York jury pool wasn’t bad enough.
    A civilian judge might have to declare a mistrial and throw out the whole case against KSM. Then what? Release him? Send him back to Pakistan? The guy who has confessed to being the operational head of al Qaeda who planned 9/11? Ah, but Holder promised he wouldn’t be released…so, back into indefinite detention…right where we started!
    In short, Holder is an idiot and the whole thing was a big announcement of good intentions that nobody thought through. A self-inflicted wound on the Obama administration.

    Reply

  42. nadine says:

    Like other parts of Obama’s policies, the idea of giving a civilian trial to the mastermind of 9/11 has met up with reality, and collapsed.
    However satisfying it would be to put Cheney and Addington on trial (why not Scooter Libbey, who was Cheney’s chief of staff when the policies were put into place?), it would render the US current counter-terror capabilities completely inoperative. As the Christmas undie-bomber demonstrated, that might not be a wise idea.

    Reply

  43. Josh M. says:

    I don’t understand what the point is in even
    considering this? Civilian courts are fully
    functional, and I agree with Steve 100% that
    moving KSM into a military court would undermine
    Obama’s political base.
    Excluding the tactical stuff though, this is a
    major strategic mistake, UNLESS the Obama
    administration is afraid of a KSM defense that
    makes public a perspective on U.S. foreign policy
    in the Middle East that doesn’t comport with what
    Americans want. Frankly though, I think my
    suspicion is far-fetched, and this is actually
    just another instance of Obama not actually
    knowing who he is.
    This guy doesn’t have a concrete set of ethical
    principles it seems. He won’t fight for what’s
    right. What does he believe in. I bet he doesn’t
    even know anymore. He’s lost in his own bubble.

    Reply

  44. Ben Rosengart says:

    Noted — and this is *not* the change which I
    voted for. Nor that which I donated, phone-called,
    and endlessly advocated for.

    Reply

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