WH appointment may signal return to military commissions for KSM

posted at 11:36 am on May 18, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Ever since the Christmas Day EunuchBomber attack attempt, the Obama administration has spun in circles over whether to try captured terrorists in federal court or military commissions.  They tried splitting the baby by assigning Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the 9/11 plotters to federal court while sending others to the military commissions, but that turned into a PR fiasco when New Yorkers demanded that the trial take place somewhere else.  The failed Times Square attack may have been the last straw, as the White House appears to have signaled a new focus on preparing for military commissions:

The appointment of a well-respected ex-Navy lawyer to oversee war-crime trials is being seen in military legal circles as a sign the Obama administration might reverse its decision to bring Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to New York for a civilian trial. …

A month after the administration signaled a reversal, the Pentagon, with significant White House input, named retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald as the war-crimes convening authority. In that post, the Navy’s former top lawyer is the official who brings criminal charges, selects jury pools, approves defense- lawyer expenses and makes other rulings.

Charles Stimson, the Pentagon’s director of detainee affairs in the Bush administration and who still monitors terror prosecutions as a legal analyst at the Heritage Foundation, noted the significance of the MacDonald appointment.

“Picking Bruce does not prove that KSM is going to commission, but what it does show is that Bruce would not have taken the leap if he did not think he was going to get some substantive cases, because he’s a worker guy. He likes real work,” said Mr. Stimson. “And the White House and [Defense Department General Counsel] Jeh Johnson would not have asked Bruce to come over.”

Added Mr. Stimson, a former prosecutor and currently a Navy reserve judge advocate: “They are essentially bringing ‘Michael Jordan’ in to head up commissions. And what that tells you is that they either want Michael Jordan there to handle the relatively uninteresting cases, or they’re bringing him in because they want to be prepared if and when they have to relent and send KSM back there for lack of a better political option. So they want to have the A Team in place.”

One doesn’t acquire a Michael Jordan just to play the Washington Generals, in other words.  The low-key nature of the appointment may also be a signal.  The Obama administration has taken a lot of heat over its move away from federal courts from the Left, and in the midst of the Times Square bomber issue, they hardly need another fight over competency and direction.

If the latest attack provided the impetus away from federal courts, that will have no small amount of irony.  Faisal Shahzad must be tried in federal court for the crime he committed, thanks to his American citizenship granted him by naturalization.  Because Shahzad was arrested after he committed an act of terrorism, federal courts are the entirely appropriate venue for adjudicating his case.  The impact the case has on this decision is entirely related to optics; right now, the counterterrorism efforts of the US have started looking a little threadbare, which won’t give anyone much confidence in their ability to shoehorn foreign terrorists captured by military and intelligence assets abroad through the criminal court system.  Hence, the appointment of Vice Admiral MacDonald.

The White House may have another out as well.  The trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani has been delayed while the courts deliberate a motion to dismiss his case on Sixth Amendment grounds, charging that the US held him too long to give him a constitutionally-mandated speedy trial.  If the courts rule in Ghailani’s favor, the Obama administration will move his case back to the military commissions, as well as others like Ghailani’s.  They can blame that on the Bush administration, and they will, but the Bush administration never intended Ghailani to be tried in federal court.  They intended — as did Congress — for captured terrorists to be processed through military commissions, which is why Congress passed three different versions of regulations for that venue.

Don’t expect to see KSM in a courtroom, in other words.  Right now, the Obama administration is looking for any excuse to reverse itself, and hopes to let the courts “force” them back into the military commissions that should have been used from the beginning.


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Comments

So they want to have the A Team in place.

The A-Team is back baby!!!

WashJeff on May 18, 2010 at 11:39 AM

I pity the fool

the Coondawg on May 18, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Does this mean the Big O actually admits that (perish the thought) BUSH WAS RIGHT???

Steve Z on May 18, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Ojesus acted stupidly. Beer, anyone?

hillbillyjim on May 18, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Does this mean the Big O actually admits that (perish the thought) BUSH WAS RIGHT???

Steve Z on May 18, 2010 at 11:42 AM

I trust he`ll bring out the `ole “As I have always said.”

ThePrez on May 18, 2010 at 11:44 AM

I love it when a plan comes together.

cozmo on May 18, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald

Judge Advocate Generals Corps, United States Navy Judge Advocate General
====================================

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=187

canopfor on May 18, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Eric Holder is stomping his little feet and holding his breath.

Mr. Joe on May 18, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Never underestimate the Obama Administrations ability to screw the American people.

doriangrey on May 18, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Obama really needs for something to go right for him, the appointment of Bruce MacDonald is hopefully a small step in the right direction. Obama is the reason SNAFU was invented.

fourdeucer on May 18, 2010 at 11:48 AM

In other news, the Majestic Teleprompter was summarily fired and replaced with a new and improved version. The new model is reported to have the capacity to point fingers and scold simultaneously. It is believed to be able to lie seamlessly in three different dialects.

hillbillyjim on May 18, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Obama really needs for something to go right for him, the appointment of Bruce MacDonald is hopefully a small step in the right direction. Obama is the reason SNAFU was invented.

fourdeucer on May 18, 2010 at 11:48 AM

fourdeucer: I love that phrase,SNAFU!!:)

canopfor on May 18, 2010 at 11:50 AM

“I never wanted to try KSM in a civilian court, that was someone else.”

-PBHO

Bishop on May 18, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Steve z: he’ll never admit that

cmsinaz on May 18, 2010 at 11:51 AM

You think they’ve getting nervous now, just wait until after tonight’s results. Scooter will be pivoting more than Shaquille O’Neal.

kingsjester on May 18, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Right now, the Obama administration is looking for any excuse to reverse itself, and hopes to let the courts “force” them back into the military commissions that should have been used from the beginning

the boomerang effect of a dumbass lefty position….

nice work, champ. Coulda done the right thing when the right thing needed to be done, but you di’nt….and now you’re forced to. So much for all that “efficiency” you guys mention. BTW, about that “efficiency” you’re going to wring out of the $500 billion in medicare cuts, how you goin’ to do that again……

yeah, get back to me.

ted c on May 18, 2010 at 11:57 AM

So….Bush was right, Libtards and paultards were wrong

welcome to the real world

jp on May 18, 2010 at 11:59 AM

I love that phrase,SNAFU!!:)

canopfor on May 18, 2010 at 11:50 AM

It is the only safe way for me to describe Obama and my contempt for him and his administration. I rarely speak the words in the acronym.

fourdeucer on May 18, 2010 at 12:00 PM

The trials at Nuremberg were military commissions.

J_Crater on May 18, 2010 at 12:04 PM

If anyone is interested,here is what there saying on
the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon,about the trials!!
========================================================

Kangeroo court is mentioned!!

http://english.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=8810&cid=216

canopfor on May 18, 2010 at 12:09 PM

I love that phrase,SNAFU!!:)

canopfor on May 18, 2010 at 11:50 AM
=====================
It is the only safe way for me to describe Obama and my contempt for him and his administration. I rarely speak the words in the acronym.

fourdeucer on May 18, 2010 at 12:00 PM

fourdeucer: How about FU BO Clown!haha:)

canopfor on May 18, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Does this mean the Big O actually admits that (perish the thought) BUSH WAS RIGHT???

Steve Z on May 18, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Of course not.

Bush was right. But that takes away the whole meaning of Obama. They cannot ever admit Bush was not the devil.

petunia on May 18, 2010 at 12:15 PM

KSM’s videotaped slaughter of Daniel Pearl “captured the world’s imagination” according to Obama (video). How magical!

Cuffy Meigs on May 18, 2010 at 12:19 PM

A month after the administration signaled a reversal, the Pentagon, with significant White House input, named retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald as the war-crimes convening authority.

Wait a minute if this guy is working for the Obama administration doesn’t that make him a traitor?

I mean Huntsman is a traitor for taking that job as Chinese Ambassador.

petunia on May 18, 2010 at 12:19 PM

KSM’s videotaped slaughter of Daniel Pearl “captured the world’s imagination” according to Obama (video). How magical!

Cuffy Meigs on May 18, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Cuffy Meigs:I would think horror,not imagination!

canopfor on May 18, 2010 at 12:22 PM

KSM’s videotaped slaughter of Daniel Pearl “captured the world’s imagination” according to Obama (video). How magical!

Cuffy Meigs on May 18, 2010 at 12:19 PM

But, but,… he’s all articulate and stuff!

hillbillyjim on May 18, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Zzzzz. Prediction: We’ll still be talking where KSM will be tried a year from now.

Dusty on May 18, 2010 at 12:37 PM

VADM McDonald is the Bull Halsey of the Navy JAG community. Good Pick.

Squid Shark on May 18, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Too bad the Obama Administration doesn’t just roll over AND RESIGN!

GarandFan on May 18, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Zzzzz. Prediction: We’ll still be talking where KSM will be tried a year from now.

Dusty on May 18, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Yup.

Del Dolemonte on May 18, 2010 at 12:55 PM

FIRE HOLDER NOW.

FIRE NAPOLITANO TOMORROW.

profitsbeard on May 18, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Regarding Shahzad, while it is true that he is entitled to trial in federal court if and when he is charged, absolutely no legal impediment prevents declaring him an unlawful enemy combatant and interrogating him as such.

In Shahzad’s case doing so would have been particularly appropriate. Since ample evidence of his crimes had already been developed, for the purposes of prosecution suppression of evidence gained from Shahzad directly would do no harm to the case. On the other hand, the operational intelligence he has regarding ongoing terrorist activities and plans could well be priceless; no telling how many lives might be saved.

Obama’s obsession for trying terrorists in federal court, apparently politically motivated, is dangerous folly. Terrorists with actionable intel don’t fall into our hands every day. People will die who might have lived if Obama and his hand tool Eric Holder continue to obstruct critical intelligence gathering.

novaculus on May 18, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Michael Jordan?

I prefer a raging Jack Bauer.

Captain America on May 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM