Where are the Democrats and why aren’t they pushing back?
If you’re like a lot of people — say, Liz Cheney — you’ve been wondering why Barack Obama seems to think the rights of terrorists are more important than the lives of the American people and wants to give them civilian trials and let them get “lawyered up,” in the suddenly voguish phrase, so they can take advantage of sneaky liberal wrinkles in the law inserted in there by sneaky liberal defense lawyers and judges over the years. This is instead of hauling them before military tribunals, the current hot right-wing talking point.
Oh, you’re not one of those people? Okay, then. You might therefore be interested to know the following:
The Bush administration — in which Liz Cheney’s papa held a fairly high position, you might recall — prosecuted, after 9-11, 828 people on terrorism charges in civilian courts. At the time of publication of this excellent report from the Center on Law and Security, NYU School of Law last year, trials were still pending against 235 of those folks. That leaves 593 resolved indictments, of which 523 were convicted of some crime, for a conviction rate of 88%.
With regard to military tribunals, the Bush administration inaugurated 20 such cases. So far just three convictions have been won. The highest-profile is the conviction of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver. The Hamdan legal saga, rehearsed here, doesn’t exactly suggest that military tribunals provide swifter and surer and tougher justice. In the end, he was convicted all right, but sentenced — not by a bunch of New York City Democrats, but by a military jury! — to five and half years.
Then, the tribunal judge, a US Navy captain, gave Hamdan credit for time served, which was five years. So he served six months after conviction. Today he’s back in — guess where? — Yemen.
So here’s the situation. Bush/Cheney found civilian prosecution a perfectly acceptable path to pursue in 828 cases. They’ve won convictions at an impressive rate in those civilian prosecutions. The most high-profile military prosecution was kind of a disaster.
And yet, Obama is a weakling because Abdulmutallab is being treated the way the Bush administration treated 828 “suspects,” to use a word the right has declared reveals a girly-mannish mindset. Amazing. And again: where are the Democrats and why aren’t they pushing back on this?
JAG: GOP Criticism Of Obama On Underwear Bomber Way Off-Base
“There is a similar mischaracterization over what can be done in terms of interrogating the detainee, claim Cullen and others. Republican critics of the president insist that Obama forfeited effective interrogation measures by declining to go the route of a military commission. But there are limitations to what even military interrogators could do with Abdulmutallab.”
If Republican critics of President Obama are to be believed, the administration made one of the biggest blunders in national security history when it placed the accused underwear bomber in the criminal justice system as opposed to the military alternative.
It’s simply not true, say legal experts, including officials who formerly served in the military tribunal system.
James Cullen, a retired brigadier general who served as a JAG officer, tells the Huffington Post that there are narrow differences between the legal and interrogation proceedings Abdulmutallab was subjected to and those which would have happened in a military commission.
Read More: Huffington Post