Obama administration stalling KSM trial?

posted at 12:00 pm on August 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Several months ago, Eric Holder declared that he would try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi binal Shibh, and the rest of the 9/11 plotters held in Guantanamo Bay in federal court, consequences be damned.  Just prior to that decision, Nidal Hasan murdered fourteen people at Fort Hood after a long connection to al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, and almost immediately afterward, the EunuchBomber barely missed his chance of killing hundreds of people in the air and on the ground in the Christmas Day flight — after a shorter connection to AQ recruiter Awlaki.  In the wake of the two terrorist attacks — and before a third attempt in Times Square that would have massacred hundreds as well — public outrage forced the White House to back down and reconsider the option of military commissions.

Or so we thought.  According to the Associated Press this weekend, the Obama administration has done nothing at all to prepare for either a trial or a military commission for the 9/11 plotters since publicly distancing itself from Holder’s original decision:

But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the attacks, and four alleged accomplices are still sequestered at Guantanamo without charges. The Obama administration, after months of review, hasn’t made a decision on whether to seek a military or civilian trial.

It’s a delay that has angered relatives of Sept. 11 victims. It also has created an unusual situation: Previous war-crimes proceedings, in which Mohammed boasted of his role in the attacks and said he wanted to plead guilty, have essentially been erased. No U.S. officials will say what the plans are for the five men who were transferred in 2006 to Guantanamo from secret CIA custody.

“There’s no case, there’s no judge, there’s nothing,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard Federico, a military lawyer appointed to defend alleged plotter Ramzi bin al Shibh. “They are back into the black hole.”

So what’s the hold-up?  The White House sees the midterms coming, and a Kobayashi Maru scenario unfolding:

Lawyers for the Sept. 11 defendants and other observers doubt an announcement will be made before November elections, because moving them to the United States and keeping them in Guantanamo for a military trial are both politically unpopular choices.

“Why would you want to pay this political price in the three months before this election which you are expecting to do badly in?” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow and terrorism specialist at the Brookings Institution.

Quite the sticky wicket, indeed.  If Obama chooses military commissions, it means an almost certain halt to his promise to close Gitmo, at least for a long while.  Of course, other defendants have already been chosen for military commissions, which means that a decision to try the 9/11 plotters in that venue would have limited impact on that decision anyway.

If the administration is stalling out of political considerations, it’s because they’re leaning back towards federal court.  That kind of announcement would create outrage among a large majority of Americans who want military commissions for the detainees.  Obama had hoped that the passage of ObamaCare would at least temper the fervor of conservative grassroots outrage and momentum, which has yet failed to occur.  Announcing yet again that KSM and his cabal will get a federal courtroom for their platform would pour gasoline on an already-raging fire.

And none of this would have been necessary at all had Obama simply allowed the KSM military commission to proceed as scheduled.  KSM wanted to plead guilty, Congress had repeatedly authorized that venue to adjudicate the case, and the White House would have been beyond this question more than a year ago.  Instead, they’ve managed to drag it out in the worst possible way, and now have to calculate the potential damage all over again for fumbling the issue.


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How are the golf courses in Cuba?

Drained Brain on August 1, 2010 at 12:03 PM

If Obama chooses military commissions, it means an almost certain halt to his promise to close Gitmo, at least for a long while.

check your sources, Ed. Obama signed an EXORD by his own hand, he did declareth, that GTMO would be closed in Jan 2010. That place is as good as shuttered 8 mos ago…..er, wait.??

ted c on August 1, 2010 at 12:05 PM

The only reason this guy is still alive is because of the ideological incompetence of this admin.

rob verdi on August 1, 2010 at 12:05 PM

And none of this would have been necessary at all had Obama simply allowed the KSM military commission to proceed as scheduled.

He got his ideology stuck in his national security. Now he’s trying to extricate both….

nice work bub….fore!

ted c on August 1, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Instead, they’ve managed to drag it out in the worst possible way, and now have to calculate the potential damage all over again for fumbling the issue.

nothing like pulling the pin on that hand grenade and dropping it in your lap, eh Holder?

ted c on August 1, 2010 at 12:07 PM

The adult lawyers are in charge.

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2010 at 12:07 PM

The only reason this guy is still alive is because of the ideological incompetence of this admin.

rob verdi on August 1, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Actually, I think it’s because O’bama would rather be waterboarded than have to sign the death sentence for a Muslim.

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2010 at 12:09 PM

*Politics* influencing national security decisions in the Obummer administration? I’m SHOCKED!

KS Rex on August 1, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Mr. Fenstermaker is a member of the pool of Qualified Civilian Defense Counsel, authorized to represent the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before the Military Commissions being conducted at Guantanamo Bay. He has a secret security clearance and is available to represent clients involved in national security-related issues.

So what has become of Mr. Fenstermaker, surely he has had enough time to build his case?

fourdeucer on August 1, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Ya know, everytime I see this photo of this guy (which is quite often)–the thing I think about is how awful it must be to be some poor Muslim gal forced to marry this or some creature like him. Yuck!!!(Yes, I know it’s off thread–but not very far)

jeanie on August 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM

“Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2010 at 12:09 PM”

Spot on. That wouldn’t make muslim-majority nations feel good about their accomplishments!

KS Rex on August 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Del Dolemonte,
it is odd how he is happy to let generals and admirals give the orders for snipers or predator strikes, but something that would land directly on his desk makes him shrink?

rob verdi on August 1, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Wow- Breaking Headline from AP on YAHOO News:

GOP looks to erase Democrats’ comfy House majority

CWforFreedom on August 1, 2010 at 12:16 PM

How are the golf courses in Cuba?

Drained Brain on August 1, 2010 at 12:03 PM

winner…heh
:)

cmsinaz on August 1, 2010 at 12:19 PM

So with this ongoing KSM debacle now rapidly approaching clusterfark mode, why is that certified idiot in desperate need of a village Eric Holder still being allowed to occupy and disgrace the office of Attorney General?

If Obama was even 1/3 of a degree true to his now empty as his suit promise of “hope and change”, he would fire Eric Holder on the spot, today, without the right to an appeal for Holder’s absolutely majestic screw-up of this whole KSM mess-a-palooza!

pilamaye on August 1, 2010 at 12:20 PM

So what’s the hold-up? The White House sees the midterms coming

Add Rangles possible ethics trial in September and Maxine Waters issues….

BallisticBob on August 1, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Ya know, everytime I see this photo of this guy (which is quite often)–the thing I think about is how awful it must be to be some poor Muslim gal goat forced to marry this or some creature like him. Yuck!!!(Yes, I know it’s off thread–but not very far)

jeanie on August 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM

FIFY

Tim Zank on August 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Instead, they’ve managed to drag it out in the worst possible way, and now have to calculate the potential damage all over again for fumbling the issue.

incompetence, thy name is obama

cmsinaz on August 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM

So what’s the hold-up? The White House sees the midterms coming

i thought the dems were all about civil rights for terrorists? i mean, right to a speedy trial, and all.

knob on August 1, 2010 at 12:23 PM

I am beginning to think they don’t intend to try him at all.

Terrye on August 1, 2010 at 12:25 PM

This is a great example of why I’m becoming increasingly annoyed with righty blogs lately (with all due respect, Ed & Allah).

The take on this is basically, ha ha ha, Obama and Holder, hoist on their own petard of electoral politics! Suckers!

The reality is that, for all the outrage and impressions of “victory” in delaying the federal trial in NYC, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. They let the firestorm subside, now we’re going to have elections, and then they’re going to move ahead with a Federal trial.

There’s nothing so dangerous as a false impression that this administration has been dealt a setback.

Purple Fury on August 1, 2010 at 12:25 PM

I agree with those who suggest that if KSM was a Christian Republican, they would have accepted his plea and executed him.

KW64 on August 1, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Stalled is the operative word for Barry and everything he touched.

bayview on August 1, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Stalled is the operative word for Barry and everything he touched.

bayview on August 1, 2010 at 12:31 PM

We should be so lucky.

Purple Fury on August 1, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Don’t we have Obama on tape saying that he was going to rule without thought of political considerations ie elections and just do what is best for the country?

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 1, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Perhaps it’s just taking so long because Obama is trying to find a spot in his administration for KSM after Holder drops all charges one late Friday nite.

darwin on August 1, 2010 at 12:36 PM

The hold-up problem is because DOJ is having difficulty getting issued a business license in New York City to open a Media Circus. At issue is whether circus employees like KSM will be required to have mandatory Health Insurance coverage.

bobnox on August 1, 2010 at 12:37 PM

it is odd how he is happy to let generals and admirals give the orders for snipers or predator strikes, but something that would land directly on his desk makes him shrink?

rob verdi on August 1, 2010 at 12:14 PM

“Oh no, I’m not signing anything!”

Officer of the Day Hawkeye Pierce, “M*A*S*H”

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2010 at 12:37 PM

But but but he is already guilty! Barry the Blightworker has said so:

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/11/18/video-obama-prejudges-ksms-trial-denies-hes-prejudging-it/

GnuBreed on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Poor Barry, the dumb bastard has been hoisted on his own petard.

Karma baby, K A R M A !

GarandFan on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 PM

And none of this would have been necessary at all had Obama simply allowed the KSM military commission to proceed as scheduled. KSM wanted to plead guilty, Congress had repeatedly authorized that venue to adjudicate the case, and the White House would have been beyond this question more than a year ago.

Obamateurism of the month…year…?

cartooner on August 1, 2010 at 12:52 PM

This is like every other “issue” that comes up that might hurt the Democrats and specifically Obama.Delay, delay, delay. This time it’s because of the Nov. elections. Next time it will because of the Presidential election. Of course the MSM helps them along their merry way by ignoring it. Example of the latest,denying an expedited appeal to Arizona.Gee I wonder if someone got to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals? We’ll review it after November? Come on. It would be harmful to the Democrats running to keep it in the news. Sickening…

sandee on August 1, 2010 at 1:10 PM

That really is a very unflattering picture of Rosie O’Donnell.

Key West Reader on August 1, 2010 at 1:16 PM

The fact is that this administration is playing politics with this, and thus playing politics with the security of the US.

Ya like the feeling?

Wander on August 1, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Why does Obama want to lock up people indefinitely without trial?

Just sayin’

thebrokenrattle on August 1, 2010 at 1:24 PM

nothing like pulling the pin on that hand grenade and dropping it in your lap, eh Holder?

ted c on August 1, 2010 at 12:07 PM

He obviously forgot the directions

karl9000 on August 1, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Nice work chump!

Ogabe on August 1, 2010 at 1:26 PM

According to the Associated Press this weekend, the Obama administration has done nothing

You can stop there…

d1carter on August 1, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Tell you what, let’s make this a political issue for this campaign season. The public has a short memory, so let’s assist them in this regard.

paul1149 on August 1, 2010 at 1:31 PM

“Why would you want to pay this political price in the three months before this election which you are expecting to do badly in?” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow and terrorism specialist at the Brookings Institution.

Political price vs. Political value.

maverick muse on August 1, 2010 at 1:41 PM

That really is a very unflattering picture of Rosie O’Donnell.

Key West Reader on August 1, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Ron Jeremy could not be reached for comment.

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2010 at 1:53 PM

It is an absolute outrage that this genocidal killer has not been executed by a firing squad yet. Obama you deserve to be impeached for many reasons but YOUR failure to put this man before a military tribunal and have him executed is a stain on your sadly lacking failed humanity.

wtng2fish on August 1, 2010 at 2:44 PM

OT: Ms. Lindsey Graham is spouting off again: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/112051-graham-gop-critics-may-unravel-afghan-war-effort

onlineanalyst on August 1, 2010 at 3:02 PM

“Why did GWB not have him tried?” –Obama

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2010 at 3:14 PM

That really is a very unflattering picture of Rosie O’Donnell.

Key West Reader on August 1, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Yes, that picture was taken before she shaved in the morning.

bayview on August 1, 2010 at 3:21 PM

Obama opens can of worms, tries to vote present.

Disturb the Universe on August 1, 2010 at 3:27 PM

How are the golf courses in Cuba?

Drained Brain on August 1, 2010 at 12:03 PM

The one on the base is lousy: very dry and rough.

Kevin K. on August 1, 2010 at 4:06 PM

So much for being “ready on Day One”.

CP on August 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM

I’ve heard about the hair standing up on the back of someones neck, but dang.

johnnyU on August 1, 2010 at 6:46 PM

All the good points have already been made by ted c specifically to the point of the administration’s utter incompetence and outright lying about their intentions with Gitmo and the trials of these “gentlemen”. My question is why do they even get a pass in the press by waiting until after the midterms if that is indeed their plan? I’m being rhetorical. My bet is a new Journolist entity is already telling the troops to lay off this one. Why, because it nails the proverbial coffin lid on the Donks for national security IMHO. (as if you needed any more convincing that is)

Broken record engage…if this had been the Bush Administration.

Sample Headlines:

NYTs: Bush Administration Fails National Security Test by Waffling On Gitmo Closing!

AtlantaJC: Insults All of New York By Holding KSM Trial There. Is He Living In A Bubble?

WAPO: Bush Administration Unable to Coordinate Open and Shut Terrorism Cases.

LA Times: Is Bush DOJ Incompetent?

(I hate the media)

grrr

hawkdriver on August 1, 2010 at 8:10 PM

The White House sees the midterms coming, and a Kobayashi Maru scenario unfolding:

And we all know who the big eared, too cool, uncompassionate, alien to America is in this scene!

chickasaw42 on August 1, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Holder, ~incompetent flunkey.

Obama, ~Incompetent-In-Chief.

profitsbeard on August 1, 2010 at 8:37 PM