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Obama: Maybe Those Military Tribunals Aren't so Bad After All

It's amazing how governing can cause our Dear Leader to see a bit of reality. After all his self-righteous indignation about the Bush administration's use of military tribunals to try the terrorists being held in Guantanamo Bay and after suspending them to examine how the detainees can be tried in the US, Barack Obama has decided that those awful military tribunals may be the best way to go after all:

The Obama administration is moving toward reviving the military commission system for prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, which was a target of critics during the Bush administration, including Mr. Obama himself.

Officials said the first public moves could come as soon as next week, perhaps in filings to military judges at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, outlining an administration plan to amend the Bush administration's system to provide more legal protections for terrorism suspects.

Continuing the military commissions in any form would probably prompt sharp criticism from human rights groups as well as some of Mr. Obama's political allies because the troubled system became an emblem of the effort to use Guantánamo to avoid the American legal system.

Officials who work on the Guantánamo issue say administration lawyers have become concerned that they would face significant obstacles to trying some terrorism suspects in federal courts. Judges might make it difficult to prosecute detainees who were subjected to brutal treatment or for prosecutors to use hearsay evidence gathered by intelligence agencies.

Obama administration officials -- and Mr. Obama himself -- have said in the past that they were not ruling out prosecutions in the military commission system. But senior officials have emphasized that they prefer to prosecute terrorism suspects in existing American courts. When President Obama suspended Guantánamo cases after his inauguration on Jan. 20, many participants said the military commission system appeared dead.

But in recent days a variety of officials involved in the deliberations say that after administration lawyers examined many of the cases, the mood shifted toward using military commissions to prosecute some detainees, perhaps including those charged with coordinating the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The more they look at it," said one official, "the more commissions don't look as bad as they did on Jan. 20."

You don't say.

Ed Morrissey asks a great question:

Does anyone else find it fascinating that the Obama administration leaked this on a Friday night? I suspect that they know just how much flak they will take over this reversal, especially in the media. This seems designed to bury the story in a weekend cycle, with a prayer that a big event occurs between now and Monday to keep it buried.

Maybe Madonna will get married again. Who knows?

Naw. Obama doesn't need Madonna. The MSM will do Obama's bidding enthusiastically and will do what's necessary to keep it buried. The willing accomplices in the media, instead, will discuss what they think is of much greater concern to America: Miss California's breast implants.

Jules Crittenden says "Ha ha" I can't really blame him for his "I told you so," Cheerio spewing retort because, well, he told him so.

Of course, when Obama finally addresses his backpedaling, he'll argue that his suspending the military tribunals to begin with was the cautious thing to do, that he needed the time to examine the situation to make sure he took the course that balanced the rule of law and kept Americans safe at the same time.

So, what happened to all the bad symbolism that surrounds Guantanamo Bay and holding detainees indefinitely?

"In reality and symbolically, the idea that we have people in legal black holes is an extremely serious black mark," Tribe said. "It has to be dealt with."

Well, maybe not so much.

Update: Mark Steyn on what will surely be the MSM's spin regarding Obama's sudden discovery that military tribunals are the right vehicle for prosecuting detainees after all:

Any day now, the new conventional wisdom will emerge: Obama has turned around Bush's failed war on terror because he's had the courage to do the tough things that, while not always attractive, are ruthlessly effective.

Update II: Tom Maguire on a tale of two headlines:

First, an amusing headline:

U.S. May Revive Guantánamo Military Courts

The US? Who is in charge here? The Times managed more specificity last January:


That darn U.S., undoing Obama's good work. Oh, blame the headline writer - the text of the story makes clear that this is another Obama reversal.


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Comments (5)

It's getting so that you ig... (Below threshold)

It's getting so that you ignore all Obama says until Friday afternoon. That's where the meat is.

I love it when one of my le... (Below threshold)

I love it when one of my lefty friends brings up Guantanamo. They believe we should treat those guys "just like the Geneva Conventions require."

"Oh? Really? According to the Geneva Conventions, we have the obligation to try those guys as illegal combatants, and the standard sentence is execution. So you're demanding that we execute a whole lot of terrorists?"

I usually get three or four minutes of backpedaling, ending up with "oh, er, no! We should treat them BETTER than required."

It goes downhill from there...

What Obama, if pressed at a... (Below threshold)

What Obama, if pressed at all, will say:

We took the time we needed, and it's a good thing we did, because, as I have said all along (his favorite catch phrase even if he never said it before), we had to make some significant changes to military tribunals, which we have done, to insure the very best defense, which could not have happened with the system the way it was when we came into office. Blah, blah, blah...followed by another two paragraphs...

Believe me, Obama will make it seem that he, the only one who could, has made a complete overhaul in tribunals, in fact, he has completely transformed them !!!

In fact, everything is so transformational now that unicorns and rainbows have cropped up all over that part of Cuba, and now Gitmo not only can but should stay open.

Such wishy washy leadership... (Below threshold)

Such wishy washy leadership. No core. No center. Take a poll and then move. If it is bad news, release it on Friday. Such a weak, weak party. ww

Obama's unicorns are coming... (Below threshold)

Obama's unicorns are coming home to roost. But of course Obama's supporters will find a hundred ways to spin this. Obama's approach will be touted as being much more intelligent, sophisticated and nuanced than anything Bush had in mind.






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