Hot Air Exclusive: Fred Thompson on Obama’s Boumediene Folly Update: More at PJM

posted at 6:42 pm on June 22, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier this week, Senator Fred Thompson held a press conference on the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision and the reaction to it from Barack Obama.  Afterwards, the Obama campaign dug up a quote from Senator Thompson in which he said that Osama bin Laden should get “due process” as a defense for Obama’s support of Boumediene — which shows that Obama doesn’t understand the decision or due process.  Senator Thompson responds publicly and exclusively at Hot Air:

Our Democratic friends are once again scrambling to defend Senator Obama’s latest national security gaffe.

Obama supports the recent Supreme Court majority opinion in the Boumediene decision, which extended for the first time habeas corpus rights to foreign enemy combatants held abroad. The Senator went even further than the Court and said that accused terrorists should be tried in American courts as was Omar Abdel Rahman, “the blind sheik”, who masterminded the first World Trade Center bombing.

Last week, in a call with reporters and bloggers, I pointed out Obama’s folly. The Rahman case demonstrates some of the main reasons why we should not treat enemy combatants as ordinary criminal defendants. Such proceedings potentially compromise results, sources and methods of intelligence gathering. In the course of prosecuting Rahman, the government was compelled to turn over a list of un-indicted co-conspirators to the defendant. That list included the name of Osama bin Laden. We later learned that within ten days a copy of that list reached bin Laden in Khartoum, letting him know that his connection to that case had been discovered.

My comments apparently caused the DNC to send out an A.P.B. for anything that might help their candidate out of this problem. Their “Googling” efforts revealed the fact that last year I pointed out that bin Laden would have to be given due process when he is apprehended.

Given that our Democrat friends apparently don’t understand what “due process” means for enemy combatants, they probably thought they had found a silver bullet for their candidate. For them, my statement supports Obama’s argument for terrorist trials in United States courts.

Of course, it doesn’t. Under several centuries of British and U.S. law, enemy combatants, especially those who are foreign combatants, do not have the same rights as American citizens. This does not mean that they cannot be given certain rights. In 2005, under the Detainee Treatment Act, Congress provided enemy combatants arrested and held abroad with certain procedural rights, such as the right to detention hearings where they may call and cross examine witnesses, etc. It was the due process to which all such prisoners were entitled at the time of my statement last year.

This is a far cry from a trial in a United States court, which Senator Obama would grant them.

The military tribunal process which the Supreme Court threw out last week provided more “due process” to enemy unlawful combatants than any which preceded it — and certainly more than Obama’s oft-cited Nuremberg trials, which provided neither habeas corpus nor any appeals whatsoever.  Barack Obama may want to study Nuremberg before using it as an example, because all it proves is how wrong he is.

Update: Fred expands on the due process available to detainees at Gitmo before Boumediene in a new column at Pajamas Media:

  • The right to hear the bases of the charges against them including a summary of any classified evidence
  • The ability to challenge the bases of their detention before military tribunals modeled after Geneva Convention procedures. As Robert’s pointed out, some 38 detainees have been released as result of this process.
  • The right, before the tribunal, to testify, introduce evidence, including exculpatory evidence, call witnesses, cross examine the government witnesses and secure release if and when appropriate.
  • The right to the aid of a personal representative in arranging and presenting their cases before the tribunal.
  • The right to have the government search for and disclose to the detainee any evidence reasonably available to it tending to show that the detainee is not an enemy combatant.
  • The right to appeal an adverse decision from the tribunal to the Federal DC Circuit Court along with the right to employ counsel and secure release if entitled to it.
  • The right to petition the DC Circuit to remand a detainee’s case for new tribunal consideration if the petitioner comes up with newly discovered evidence
  • The right to require the Department of Defense (DOD) to conduct a yearly review of the status of each prisoner including the right to have the Secretary of Defense review any new evidence that may become available relating to the enemy combatant status of a detainee.
  • As a part of that yearly review, the opportunity for the detainee to explain why he is no longer a threat to the United States, which could lead to his release.
  • The DC Circuit can order release of the prisoner, and the head of the DOD Administrative Review Boards can, at the recommendation of those panels, order release upon an appropriate showing.

It’s worth pointing out that 38 detainees won their freedom through the use of this due process.  Be sure to read the entire column for more insight.

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wccawa, a glass of red wine and 2 meters away from the keyboard, respectfully.

tomk59 on June 22, 2008 at 11:06 PM

2 in a million is still dignified. Please consider. It might be a very good exercise. Take some time to reflect. It’s always a good thing. All the best as well, always,

Entelechy on June 23, 2008 at 12:02 AM

Unfortunately, Obambi’s followers pay no attention to his schoolboy attempts at ‘positions’. They are like little ducklings; having imprinted upon the momma duck (or whatever else they happen upon), they follow blindly, out of desperate devotion.

MrLynn on June 22, 2008 at 10:29 PM

That was good. I quibble a little bit with desperate devotion. I think ‘desperate’ implies most actually care about who gets elected. I think for many it’s just important to feel good about yourself for supporting Obama and look good to your friends saying you do. Let’s hope that doesn’t supply enough energy to wake up on Tuesday, take a bong hit, and drag their behinds to the polling booth.

silverfox on June 23, 2008 at 12:48 AM

I feel like less of a dork when other people use Latin.

Squid Shark on June 22, 2008 at 9:16 PM

Well,that makes two of ya.


soundingboard on June 23, 2008 at 1:03 AM

You are so awesome FloatingRock!!!

wise_man on June 22, 2008 at 11:59 PM


FloatingRock on June 23, 2008 at 1:12 AM

Good on ya, Fred. Enjoy your kids before we need you again.

silverfox on June 23, 2008 at 1:35 AM

It’s truly amazing how clueless Obama is about US history, world history, law, business, economics, and government in general.

It’s a sure bet that if by some chance he wins the Presidency, his handlers will be the ones actually in charge of the country. This means that the country will be in constant danger because decisions and White House reactions will always be extremely SLOW and unresponsive.

landlines on June 23, 2008 at 2:16 AM

Nice job Fred.

Barry O is still a moron.

Mojave Mark on June 23, 2008 at 2:18 AM

What a bastard that McCain is.

wise_man on June 22, 2008 at 11:59 PM

True, and well said.

jaime on June 23, 2008 at 6:12 AM


King of Fools on June 23, 2008 at 7:45 AM

Out of curiosity, with the Supreme’s decision do the terrorists now have more rights then illegal aliens picked up by ICE? Any legal eagles out there who could answer that?

Limerick on June 23, 2008 at 8:24 AM

Jeff on June 22, 2008 at 7:49 PM


don’t forget Constitutional authority

maverick muse on June 23, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Rudy, Attorney General.
Chakra Hammer

Fred! for Secretary of State.
Mallard T. Drake


And the idea of Supreme Court Justice works, too, I agree. President Thompson would have been great. McCain’s presidency will be for naught if he doesn’t have Fred! on board. But then, McCain/RNC won’t win the GOP POTUS without Fred’s platform. Without Fred, McCain’s just whistling Dixie solo and off key.

maverick muse on June 23, 2008 at 9:25 AM

It’s truly amazing how clueless Obama is about US history, world history, law, business, economics, and government in general.
landlines on June 23, 2008 at 2:16 AM

I’m continually amazed too. But I suppose that’s about what we should expect when we run a young community organizer for the job.

petefrt on June 23, 2008 at 9:25 AM

chasdal on June 22, 2008 at 9:10 PM

McCain without Thompson to hold him on the level is doomed. If McCain were to win, and devote himself entirely to the War on Terror, his forte, he would yet make tremendous errors in judgement without Fred Thompson’s constant advice on the law and ramifications of each presidential move and word and implication.

maverick muse on June 23, 2008 at 9:33 AM

We want the Democrat winners to be at least as good as Bill Clinton.

I’d like the Republican nominee to be at least as good as Bill Clinton. Why isn’t he?

flenser on June 23, 2008 at 9:34 AM

On the enemy combatants, shoot them on the battle field.
Entelechy on June 22, 2008 at 7:15 PM

Even I wouldn’t drag something home as foul smelling as they must be.
FeralCat on June 22, 2008 at 9:11 PM

Sadly for our troops, Rush hit the nail on the head. In agreement with you two, I fear for our troops returning home. As if readjustment isn’t hard enough back to civilian life, can you imagine having the rabid monkey terrorists on your back for the rest of your life?! Getting stuck in the revolving judicial courtroom door can end up being worse for a soldier than being with his buddies on the field of battle. Now put the cherry on top of the Supreme Court’s thug decision, and you have the damned terrorists stalking your military members and family for the rest of your life!

If ever a cause needed civilian upheaval, THIS situation absolutely matches the seriousness of illegal aliens being excused whilst draining our system, the cause for which HotAir readers ally in demanding justice from our elected officials. It is Congress and the President who have the Constitutional right to discount what the Supreme Court has just inflicted upon the world, specifically US!

Folks, write your congressmen and senators. With all of the campaign rhetoric to provide our military with better benefits, THEY’D BETTER ADDRESS THIS ISSUE WELL IN LEGISLATION! Strike down this Supreme Court overextension and keep our government balance in check. Of all the stoopid, wasteful and idiotic rantings on the floor, drop it all at this moment and protect our troops from litigation of personal retribution from terrorists and enemy combatants. God Almighty hear our prayers: protect our men and women in uniform at home and abroad.

maverick muse on June 23, 2008 at 9:57 AM

Squid Shark on June 22, 2008 at 9:16 PM

Thanks! Oddly enough, Obama’s blather inspires the student to revisit lessons from long ago. As Obamadonks scratch the donkeys, Latin enjoys yet another renaissance, even a resurrection for those who never enjoyed its study. It really ought to be the first “second language” taught in elementary school following Aaesop’s Fables in Kindergarten and the primary grades introduction to the characters who personify the ancient’s myths. Our elementary school presented Aaesop’s Fables during story time before naps in Kindergarten. They are perfect for the school child’s imagination to reflect upon during quiet time. Joseph Campbell’s concept of “myth” has its treasured place when facing down today’s multiculturalism. But then, our children would be educated and prepared to defeat Marx’s whoredom of our Constitutional Liberty and Justice under the Law. imo

maverick muse on June 23, 2008 at 10:14 AM

Ahhh nothing like the old “blame the moderate” crap.

Squid Shark on June 22, 2008 at 9:19 PM

Horace: In medio stat virtus.
Virtue is in the moderate, not the extreme position.

GWB: Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo. (Resolutely in deed, gentle in manner.)

McCain: Fortitudine vincimus. (By endurance we conquer.)
We also note that McCain takes cover under the advice of Horace, though exactly what amounts to “moderation”? I’ve joked that the center lane of traffic is designated most frequently for left turns or infrequently for U-turns. Perhaps the GOP base would appreciate more McCain U-turns than his typical left turns and would thank McCain for his endorsement of Thompson’s POTUS platform! What a coup we could all enjoy if McCain would follow Fred’s advice. No faux pas to nix the works of Constitutional originality at play.

BHO: Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur. (The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.)

maverick muse on June 23, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Until the Dems found a new way to scare me with their Hugo Chavez energy platform, this was the scariest thing about the Obama campaign. Of course it would not be difficult for Obama or his advisors to study the legal ramifications of Nuremburg, and speak more intelligently about it, but the issue is not really one of legal education or the fine points of military law… the issue is that Obama and his party don’t think there is a War on Terror at all, and they take the issue of enemy combatants’ legal rights about as seriously as they would take the question of legal rights for marauding extraterrestrial aliens. They’ve largely convinced themselves that 9-11 didn’t happen, or it was a natural disaster, or it was a false flag operation by Chimpy McHitlerburton. They don’t think we’ll suffer a serious terrorist attack, and they really do think every issue we have with Islamism can be smoothed over with skillful diplomacy.

Obama sees only three important considerations when it comes to enemy combatants: (1) what does enlightened European opionion say on the subject, (2) liberal dogma says virtually all prisoners are held unjustly and should be released as soon as possible, foreign or domestic, and (3) anything George W. Bush does is presumptively a crime against humanity. Everything else is an irritating distraction for him. The only thing a “community organizer” knows about prisons is that there shouldn’t be any, period.

Obama and his ilk must never get within a mile of the White House. It would be nice to have something to vote for, instead of just voting against… like, say, Vice President Fred Thompson.

Doctor Zero on June 23, 2008 at 10:42 AM

10:56 pm Republicans voted for McCain, because they thought he had the best shot this year.

Lest you forget, in early primaries, a lot of ubertards crossed over to vote for McCain to force Thompson out. It’s not as if the majority of Republicans asked for McCain to be on the ticket. If the GOP and the RNC actually want any verity, they can require McCain to adopt Thompson’s Constitutional GOP platform in order to gain their funding. Nothing new with that traditional premise.

maverick muse on June 23, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Lupus in fabula, speaking of the devil, Obama, when considering “what does enlightened European opinion say on the subject” defies the Enlightenment and fails to note that current European votes are anti-socialist, pro-conservative. Obama, Anguis in herba, suffers from Soros tunnel vision and would force us all down the progressive sewage drain. He traded our Constitution for a pair of rose colored glasses. Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur/The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.

maverick muse on June 23, 2008 at 10:59 AM

The Constitution guarantees due process, or “the process that is due.”

The Constitution does not guarantee “the same process for everyone.”

indythinker on June 23, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Federal Appeals Court…

First Fallout

and so it begins….

Limerick on June 23, 2008 at 12:04 PM


That kind of moronicity is what provides so much fuel to the moonbats. WTF does an Ulgar have to do with Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran/Syria? Vague ties to AQ? On that basis we should imprison the entire leadership of CAIR (not an undesirable notion, but a pretty bad idea).

sheesh, every time I start to think the Bush administration are complete morons, they pull this kind of nonsense.

iconoclast on June 23, 2008 at 6:18 PM

Cue tommylotto, csd, and BKennedy in 5…4…3…

MadisonConservative on June 22, 2008 at 8:00 PM
Snicker. Good times. GOOD TIMES!

wccawa on June 22, 2008 at 8:58 PM

It does bring back memories.

Texas Nick 77 on June 23, 2008 at 8:32 PM

Ahhh nothing like the old “blame the moderate” crap.

Squid Shark on June 22, 2008 at 9:19 PM

Dammit, Squish, make up your mind! I’ve been trashing the “moderate,” and all I get is grief from you.

But as long as it’s OK now:

“Moderate” is code for “unprincipled.”

For example: a random politician, who we’ll call Cohn McJain, is a “moderate” “Republican.” He, along with 4 other Democrats, get caught taking campaign contributions in return for favors.

Let’s say Cohn McJain wants to get his image as a corrupt politician who would take campaign contributions in return for favors behind him. So, like a good “moderate,” he “crosses over the aisle” in a “bipartisanship-y” way to “get things done” and clean up campaign finance.

He teams up with a flaming liberal moderate Democrat, who we’ll call Fuss Reingold. They try, and they try, and finally they get an unconstitutional restriction on free speech, McJain-Reingold, passed into law.

So, in order to cover his own behind and repair his damaged reputation, Cohn McJain chips away at America’s free speech rights. Because he’s unprincipled “moderate.”

misterpeasea on June 24, 2008 at 1:47 AM

Fred Thompson? Who is he?

Monkei on June 24, 2008 at 12:40 PM