Bush sent them to Gitmo; Obama sent them to their maker

- July 10th, 2012

I really like David Cole‘s writing about the failures of the George W. Bush administration when it comes to Guantanamo, torture, and the extra-constitutional activities the White House of the day engaged in in the name of the war on terror. In essays like, “They Did Authorize Torture, But …“, Cole is pretty hard — and rightfully so — on Bush. 

Now there’s a Democrat in the White House and, lo and behold, Obama  – winner of a Nobel Peace Prize — may be even more of an “extra-judicicial” hard-ass than Bush was. But Cole, in his most recent essay, Obama and Terror: Hovering Questions  — seems ready to give the Democrat the qualified pass that he was not prepared to give to the Republican.

 

Some excerpts from Cole’s July 2012 essay:

As Jo Becker and Scott Shane recently noted in a May 2012 New York Times article reviewing Obama’s national security record, “nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record.” One thing is certain: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will not be able to accuse Obama of being soft on security. Obama’s administration not only killed Osama bin Laden, but claims to have killed twenty-two of al-Qaeda’s thirty top leaders. Obama has radically escalated drone strikes, continued military detention without charge and military commissions for trying terrorists, prosecuted more government officials for leaks than all prior presidents combined, maintained the discretion to render suspects to third countries, and opposed efforts to hold US officials accountable for authorizing torture of terror suspects…”

.. the obstacles to trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian criminal court were political, not legal. President Obama’s announced policy is that where possible, terrorists should be tried in civilian criminal courts. To that end, Justice Department prosecutors fully investigated KSM’s case, and prepared a four-hundred-page briefing book setting out the case they would make against him. In doing so, [Daniel] Klaidman reports [in his new book, Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency,] they discovered a trove of secret recordings of prison yard conversations between KSM and his fellow inmates, in which they freely admitted their roles in the September 11 attacks—evidence the military prosecutors inexplicably had decided not to use. Those admissions, untainted by the torture inflicted on KSM, were so explicit that it made conviction all but certain.

… In a dramatic moment during the controversy over where to try KSM, President Obama concluded a meeting devoted to the topic by reading aloud from the sentencing transcript of the civilian criminal trial of Richard Reid, al-Qaeda’s would-be “shoe bomber,” sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003. When Reid claimed, “I am at war with your country,” Judge William Young replied:

There is all too much war talk here…. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature…. So war talk is way out of line in this court….

We all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake, though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden, pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

When he finished reading, Obama asked, “Why can’t I give that speech?” and left the room. Klaidman never answers the question. It’s obviously easier for a federal judge to make such a speech, as he does not have to stand for reelection. And it’s easier to make such a speech after a terrorist has been convicted in a fair trial and sentenced to life imprisonment than beforehand, when there is always the possibility, however remote in KSM’s case, that the terrorist might go free.

 Do read the whole thing here.

Categories: Politics

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1 comment

  1. John says:

    If Obama were a true leader he would have refused the Nobel Prize because he has done nothing to earn it and it seems everyone knows it but him. Gitmo is just one of many
    broken promises of his Administration who have managed to do the sqaure route of nothing during thier and his time in office. Healthcare will be his demise and see his second term become nothing more than a dream. Romney is well on his way if not lready to making this one of the biggest political slaughters in American History. If Healthcare does not earn Obama his demise it will be the Youth vote that he promised the world to and did nothing for. Those who couldn’t wait to vote him in cannot wait to vote him out and groups of them all over the U.S.A. are formed and ready to send a clear message on how they deal with those who do not follow through. At the end of his tenure OBAMA, one of the greatest motivational speakers and do nothings of our time will leave behind a debt that made George Bush Jr’s look like lunch money.

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