Andrew McCarthy has an excellent article today entitled “While You Weren’t Looking, Obama Kills Military Commissions” which details how, once again, Obama is bypassing laws and doing things his way:
In the blink of an eye, the second Obama term has turned the clock back to the pre-9/11 days, when al-Qaeda was a law-enforcement problem, not a national-security challenge.
… the administration has never forfeited its goal of returning to the Clinton-era counterterrorism, when all terrorists were deemed defendants presumed innocent, not enemies to be quelled. Now, with the help of President Obama’s Islamist confidant, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama has found a way around Congress’s ban.
Turkey and Jordan was able to hand over al-Qaeda leader Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, to Obama and pals and what did they do? They wisked him off to New York where now instead of being interrogated for intelligence as he would of been at Gitmo he is enjoying his own defense lawyer and all the perks the Bill of Rights gives him.
…The Obama administration’s intention is to try the same case against Abu Ghayth that it planned to present against KSM. This is a bold presidential decision to undermine military commissions and to proclaim that the civilian courts are the government’s venue of choice for all terrorism cases — even those against wartime enemy combatants.
Moreover, as Attorney General Holder must know, by proceeding with this civilian prosecution in New York at the very moment when KSM and the other 9/11 defendants are facing a military commission at Gitmo, he has given KSM & Co. an exquisite legal argument that proceeding with their military commission would be arbitrary and unjust in light of the grade-A due process Abu Ghayth is getting. That is, the government is virtually inviting the federal courts to invalidate military commissions — which was a top goal of many Obama administration lawyers back when they were in private practice, volunteering their services to terrorist detainees.
How long until KSM is handed over for a US trial? A trial in which the standard of evidence collection is much much different than in a military commission. Do they believe that collecting evidence in a war zone will be sufficient?
While in Iraq, I (among other tasks) assisted in investigations of al-Qaeda detainees, helped gather and evaluate evidence for targeting decisions, and cooperated with Iraqi-government prosecutions of local insurgents. Yet all our procedures and standards made allowances for the reality of war. In a war zone, every mission was a combat mission, and running around “chasing down leads” would be nothing short of idiotic. Our best evidence was gathered through means and methods dangerous to describe and stupid to disclose.
The laws of war, of course, anticipate these difficulties and allow for the military commissions we’ve created. That’s why we should use them.
So while Obama still sends drones into hostile territory to kill terrorist leaders, because we are war, he is signalling that we are in fact NOT at war by bringing this
enemy combatant suspect to our shores.
The Obama Doctrine — kill American terrorists overseas, try foreign terrorists in New York City
How does this make any sense? How is this consistent with any principled approach to fighting our War on Terror?
Senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte – and a number of other lawmakers – have rightly raised serious objections to Ghaith’s civilian detention and civilian trial.
Enemy combatants should be interrogated relentlessly, not given Miranda warnings.
…Our enemies, working with their allies on the international left, want America’s hands to be tied, for us to use police methods and – more importantly – police weapons and tactics even while they arm themselves to the teeth and work tirelessly to kill as many Americans as they can.
In addition, the Obama administration is demonstrating that it exists as an “imperial presidency.” One that is more arbitrary than the Bush administration it so self-righteously criticized. Under this Obama doctrine, the ultimate questions of war and peace, life and death, appear to follow no principle or pattern beyond the administration’s own whims.
This administration has failed to articulate a coherent approach to fighting deadly enemies. It brags about its “kill list” during a presidential campaign, yet after the campaign it doesn’t seem to mind when Egypt denies us access to the Benghazi suspects (by the way – where is the retaliation for that dreadful attack?).
Simply put, Bin Laden family members should not get their day in court in Manhattan.
The only coherent, common thread amongst this confusion is the apparent absolute power of a president of the United States – relying on Congress’s bipartisan declaration of war when he wants to and ignoring it when he doesn’t want to.
Even more ironic is the fact that this
enemy combatant suspect’s father-in-law was rightly assassinated by our military, ordered by Obama, because he was the leader of the group we are at war with.
But not anymore it seems.
Let the show trial begin.
Hey Curt, this troubles me some… seems to me there is a jurisdictional issue, did he commit the charged crimes while on United States soil? Was there an extradition hearing in front of a Federal Court Judge? And why on earth should he recieve the rights and privledges of a US citizen to appear in Federal Court when in reality he is an enemy combatant who is not even technically covered by the Geneva Convention?
Do you see it the same way I do Curt? Not a case I would want to present in court.
Our rules of evidence, should this even come to a trial, would dictate this ”suspect” be freed.
No jury could find him guilty of anything beyond a reasonable doubt if constrained by what evidence is admissible.
So, he walks.
But to where?
Is he now a US citizen?
He and all his wives and children go on welfare?
Does he get sent ”back” somewhere?
The Official Indictment Against Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. It was published yesterday, March 7, in the New York Times.
Among other things, the man is accused of being an accomplice in a terrorist plot that resulted in the deaths of 2,606 U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the City of New York.
I can think of no better place for a trial.
Funny, obama will strike down an American citizen in the US in a flash but give real terrorists, his fellow muslim buddies their rights according to OUR Constitution. This is all f&@$#d up. When is this man going to be impeached? I am personally tired of waiting.
I’m enjoying this ongoing Civil Liberties discussion on FA; and as usual, the only point of reference is Obama, who is always on the wrong side (even if that puts you on both sides at once). Just so I understand, drones are good, unless Obama wants to use one against a terrorist in the US, and then they’re bad. Yet apparently due process is bad, because it would be better if we sent this guy to Gitmo where we could use “enhanced interrogation” on him. A very principled, if confusing, stance indeed.
US camps for dissidents?
Why didn’t Obama just order him dropped off in Kabul or Baghdad and give him a ten yard head start to out run a drone?
If our FBI can’t capture a terrorist on American soil, they need to turn in their badges. And no, it is not OK to drop a Jdam on the head of an American citizen on American soil.
@Greg… as I stated, there seems to be a jurisdictional issue, as the first time he set foot in America was this week. Do not misunderstand me here, the attacks on September 11th, 2001 were not crimes, they were acts of war. And they should be handled as such, acts of war.
@Tom… since you so enjoy painting with a broad brush, I’ll clear up some of your confusion. Drone use has its place, like other tools of war. The problem with using them, like bombing from the air, is the collateral damages and the destruction of valuable intelligence material. Drone attacks on Americans, on American soil, when they are not actively engaged in violent actions against our country and its citizens are unconstitutional.
The problem with this case isn’t due process, unless you think it’s okay to extend to him the rights afforded to you by the Constitution. The problem is the acts of September 11th 2001 were not crimes (in my view), they were acts of war and should be treated as such. And you know what else I find interesting? Terrorist do not fit within the elements of the Geneva Convention, so GITMO and enhanced interrogation would be okay with me, especially if the interrogation yielded actionable intel which would save American lives.
Does anyone else wonder why the obama administration wants to try known terrorists near where the World Trade Center used to be? Why there? How many conservatives still think obama is on the USA’s side?
@Scott in Oklahoma: The SOB should have been reamed for information and summarily shot.
@Nan G: Hey — you have really caught on.
@retire05: Sounds good to me!
@Smorgasbord: Follow the money — Holders old law firm will be involved.
We all had this discussion in another thread. It is unconstitutional to kill an American citizen on American soil . If obama’s merry band of communist czars allow this just pray your family isn’t nearby to suffer the collateral damage. You won’t know who this person is nor that he is a target because this terrorist who may do imminent ( forthcoming, around the corner, one day) damage may be sitting next to you at a Starbucks enjoying a latte.
If there is an immediate threat like Pearl Harbor and the twin centers et al, that is a different story all together.
The obama administration is working hard to eradicate the first and second amendment rights and is now chipping away at the 14th and perhaps the fifth ( and due process is also mentioned in the fifth. )
New CIA head Brennan took his oath of office on an original US Constitution…..that was finished BEFORE the Bill of Rights was added.
1. He is NOT Christian or religious.
2. Bill of Rights? What’s that?
@Nan G: #15
I suggest we give him a little slack on this one. He might not have known that the Bill of Rights wasn’t included. Let’s not do like liberals do and jump and anything we can complain about.
KSM WAS willing to plead guilty and WAS hoping for the death penalty. The military commission has had a very poor record compared to the Federal Court system, so far they are 2 life sentence and 2 not guilty and 2 time served. The Federal courts have done MUCH better primarily because they are more independent and less tainted by command interference. Over 500 have been convicted in the USA, Gitmo is not even in the same league.
I am not in favor or targeting Americans with drones on domestic soil. And I’ve written that already here. So is that what this is about, or is it about the hypothetical killing of a terrorist under extraordinary circumstances?
My comment is questioning the consistency of the principles of those railing against Obama for Holder’s admittedly inelegant explanation of the limitations of the use of drones, and the proposed trying of an accused terrorist is an American court, the idea that we should just send this guy away to be tortured. If you and others are really concerned with civil liberties, why haven’t you criticized Obama for keeping Gitmo open, which to me is a much more pressing issue? Obama inherited that morass (and the “enhanced interrogation” one), and he hasn’t figured out how to solve it yet. Where did the Right, and FA, stand on trying Al Queda members in US courts? To me, anyone who doesn’t believe the US justice system is good enough to try Al Queda members simply doesn’t believe in the efficacy of US Justice. And I realize these aren’t Americas I’m speaking about, but anyone who truly believes in civil liberties wants to see this dark page turned, just like we turned the page on EIs. These people should all be tried and sentenced.
And let’s also remember that no citizen has been killed yet in the US by a drone – this is a discussion we’re having before it’s happened. The AG is responding to questions and clarifying his position to Congress and the US public. These aren’t manufactured excuses and legal justifications after the fact, as with Gitmo, IEs, Abu Ghraib, I have no idea where you personally fall on those issues, but jumping on a band wagon to score political points against a hated President is an empty gesture when it falls completely outside one’s stances on similarly thorny legal and civil liberties issues, particularly those that dwarf the current conversation in terms of actual impact to peoples’ lives and our nations’ reputation and honor.
@john: So you believe there is no war on terror then John? That the attacks on us were all basically criminal acts? Would that include all the other attacks rom Benghazi on back?
@Tom: Did you not understand my previous answer to your question Tom?
@Scott in Oklahoma:
My response wasn’t to you, but I understand your comment, and that’s why i disagree generally speaking with the stance you represent. There’s no way your expressed principles can possibly be outraged by Holder’s description of the rare circumstances under which he’d propose using a drone domestically, but you are also are incapable of missing an opportunity to be outraged by Obama. So you shift the goal post: this isn’t about killing terrorists, it’s about killing a political enemy, an innocent US citizen in a cafe. That’s a strawman. You make it something you can argue against, even though nothing in what Holder said ever suggested anything of the sort. Basically it all comes back to paranoia. If you’re going to be against the use of drones on US soil as described, then you have to be willing to admit you’re potentially hand-cuffing the government in responding to domestic terror. If you’re for allowing the government to kill a terrorist (US citizen or not) on US soil, then you have nothing to argue against. I for one am against it for the exact same reason Holder gave as the reason we should be for it: the extremely narrow circumstances under which it would be deemed necessary. I don’t believe in codifying the use of power for one-in-a-million “ticking bomb” type scenarios. If such a scenario rears it’s head, I trust our government will do what is necessary to protect US citizens without our having to create a potentially ambiguous precedents. Basically, in a choosing between two less than ideal choices, I’d rather have a situation where we’re breaking the law to do the right thing, than creating a situation where people can stretch the law to do the wrong thing. For the record, this is the same logic as to why I’m against IEs.
@Tom: Disingenuous again Tom. I just went back through this entire thread, I didn’t mention Obama once; not once. Funny thing is. we kind’a agree about drone use, although your conception that I am interested in handcuffing our response to domestic terrorism is just wrong. I am against the collateral damages that come with our government waging war within our borders. There have been examples of their “success”… Ruby Ridge, Waco and Wounded Knee come to mind, and they didn’t use drones in those places. I am against confusing war with crime, one is handled one way, the other another. The difference is I see the difference and make a distinction, you see it differently.
@Scott in Oklahoma:
What I’ve written on this thread is to a certain extent a sweeping response to aggregately what I’ve seen written here and elsewhere since Paul’s filibuster. A lot of the same people who show little interest in civil liberties and due process now want to act like they’re their biggest champions. This concept of , “look at these liberals agreeing with us on drones!” is backwards. The liberals who are concerned with civil liberties have been consistently saying the same things all along, not just when it’s politically expedient to attack Obama.
That being said, I regret if I’ve individually misrepresented your feelings on the matter. I should have been more clear that I wasn’t commenting only on your points, and I agree your take is more nuanced than most.
@Tom: Thank you Tom.
THERE IS MANY MUSLIM IN THAT PARTICULAR STATES OF NEW YORK AND THE MAYOR IS A WELCOMING FRIEND ,
SO THE TERRORIST WILL HAVE HIS LAWYERS ON THE GROUND LOOKING AT THE 9/11 TERRORIST MASSACRE AND DEFEND HIS RIGHTS, MAKING HIM AS COMFORTABLE AS HIS OWN COUNTRY,
AND EVENTUALY LODGING HIM AT THE MOSQE WITH A ROOM
LOOKING IN TO THE 9/11 MASSACRER SITE,
UNDER THE DOME OF THE MOSQE
I have read different places that Bloomberg is making millions by dealing with the Arabs, and can make many millions more. That is why he pushed for the mosque near the World Trade Center. It still amazes me how far some people will go for money.
yes, those would sell their soul for money, which will kill them at the end,
Actually there has been a US citizen killed albeit in another country – from collateral damage. I don’t want those in Gitmo to come to the US because as soon as they do they are allowed our civil liberties. I have other ideas what should be done with terrorists and it isn’t letting them go. It has proven those who have neen set free go back and join the fight against us.
There are several different questions being bandied about and discussed here that make it seem as if they are all “oranges” that we are talking about. I don’t agree, and you can be consistent in advocating one way, for one of the questions, and then advocating another way, for a different question.
As for the use of drones on US citizens here on US soil, that question should have been answered days and days ago. Even now, the answer that the administration gave is not concrete enough, in that it still leaves open the possibility of a case where the president, be it this one or a future one, might believe it’s necessary to do so. The answer to the question should be an absolute “NO!” Or, “Never!”
Keep in mind that we aren’t talking about another Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Those were cases of non-citizens attacking us on our own soil. And in similar cases in the future, if they ever happen, the use of drones would be acceptable and necessary, in my opinion.
But the question posed by Rand Paul on the Senate floor, dealt with US citizens on US soil. And no one should even entertain the idea that a situation would occur where using a drone in that situation is OK.
The question of bringing “enemy combatants” to stand trial in the US is really kind of a non-starter. And I say this because the ones that actually have been brought to US soil are people that are complicit in attacks on our soil, and not just simply terrorists fighting our troops overseas. And that is where there is a great distinction to be made.
With that being the case, I do not have any problem with them bringing a non-citizen to the US to stand trial, in our court system. That would change, however, if the accused being brought to trial here was simply an enemy combatant who had no complicity in any attack upon our soil, but was simply a fighter in a war our troops were waging overseas.
@johngalt: I agree with the first half, but I have to swerve at the trial situation. As one pretty amiliar with the legal system, I see some problems, at least with the present case. Do we really have the legal authority to arrest a non-citizen, in another country, who, in the process of committing the alleged crimes never set foot on American soil? Just that jurisdictional issue alone may get the case dismissed, then what?
Let me put forth a scenario to highlight my point. A guy in Italy makes a statement that he would kill Obama if given the opportunity. The guy has no means to get anywhere near Obama, and Obama ain’t going to Italy. Do we snatch the guy, haul him to New York and put him on trial for threats against the president?
J.G. My previous question to A.V. and now to you. What if John Walker Lindh had been sent by Taliban to U.S to continue or even escalate his mission? As a U.S citizen/terrorist combatant would he be entitled to rights and considerations not offered non citizen terrorist combatants?
@Richard Wheeler: If I may Richard… When Lindh returned to the US (as in your scenario), to continue or escalate his mission, he then began committing crimes on US soil (treason at minimum) thus giving the US courts clear jurisdictional authority; that combined with his citzenship gives him all the protection afforded under the Constitution to due process and the rest.
Now I’ll throw this curveball, since we haven’t seen it since the Civil War. Should we go to war within our borders, as the enemy is captured they should be held as prisoners of war until the end of the hostilities; then any war crimes, treason etc. should be charged in military tribunals and if a finding of guilt, appropriate penalties applied.
Yesterday, the NYSlimes had an article on the killing of American citizens on foreign soil. I will give you the most important page in that 5 page article:
The Obama administration has assassinated two American citizens NOT on the hit list; Khan and Al Alwalaki’s 16 year old son who was simply trying to find his missing father.
As to John Walker Lindh, he was captured on the battle field and given due process. He was not shot, as would be allowed by the Geneva Convention as a non-uniformed combatant, but given his Constitutionally guaranteed day in court. He was sentenced without the possibility of parole.
When it comes to our Constitutional rights, and how those rights are dealt with by our U.S. government, they don’t end at the water’s edge.
In combat I never checked anyone’s citizenship before I ofted them. Lindh got lucky.
You wanna hang with those whose mission it is to kill Americans? You may get hurt no matter your citizenship or whether you are in Kabul or Detroit. Just my opinion.
When I studied the Civil War, I remember reading about all those thousands of Confederates who were captured and hauled before judges and juries to be tried for taking up arms against the US.
Oh….wait…. No, I don’t remember that at all.
Seems that our country has a long standing, and very appropriate, legal tradition: take up arms against the US and risk being shot (or droned) to death where you stand.
Exit Question: During WWII, when US citizens of German descent traveled home to fight against the US on behalf of their homeland, did the US give them courtroom trials?
Non-US citizens are tried in our court systems from time to time for committing crimes while on US soil, or even committing crimes against US and it’s citizens from another location. They are extradited from the country they are found in and sent to us. It happens. And this is why I don’t have a problem with someone complicit in, say, 9/11 being given to us to try here.
This is completely different from a person who we may have caught, say, from Afghanistan who had nothing to do with 9/11, but was a part of AQ operations. For them, I have no problem with them being held in Gitmo.
And in no case would I ever agree that a person taking up arms against the US, while in the US, somehow has lost their claim to the rights we Americans enjoy. To insist on that is to throw out the Rule of Law in our country. Does a man who arms himself and commits murderous acts, like the Aurora shooter, automatically give up his rights? After all, he has taken up arms in defiance of our laws. No, he does not. Nor do your common rapists, or bank robbers, or drug dealers, even though they have willfully violated our laws.
There should never be any case where a capital sentence is handed down upon a US citizen without that citizen having their due process, according to our Constitution and laws. Not by a drone, not by a sniper, not by an artillery shell, not by anything. To do so, again, is to insist that the Rule of Law can be arbitrarily applied, depending upon the prevailing political viewpoint of the day, or even the will of the majority.
So a bank robber, holding multiple hostages, should not be shot by a police sniper if it becomes clear that is the only way to save the lives of the hostages or police?
Police departments, SWAT teams etc should never be allowed to return fire against a suspect that is firing upon them?
Those two situations are inherently different, Aye, than what I talked about, particularly your second question.
-Regarding your second question, the police have, as does anyone in our country, the inherent right to protect themselves, if their immediate safety is threatened. I do not hold anything against our LEO’s if they shoot and kill a suspect they are attempting to arrest and subdue that turns violence against our LEO’s.
-Regarding the first question posed, that kind of thing is done “on the spot”, as the incident is happening, and always as a last resort. In effect, it is the same as the second question you posed.
I am talking about the decision to arbitrarily end a person’s life, by someone, or someones, in the government, and not as a “last resort”. This is the kind of idea that can open that can of worms, and lead to egregious violations of our founding principles. I could no more condone that than I could the banning or confiscation of firearms.