Now Barack Obama says he’s not telling us how he would handle Osama bin Laden if he were captured. But he thinks making him a “martyr” is a bad idea. What’s more, he says: “You know I’ve used this analogy before but one of the hallmarks, one of the high water points, I think, of U.S. foreign policy, was the Nuremburg Trials.” The Nuremberg trials, of course, were conducted in a military tribunal devoid of habeas corpus rights for the Nazis and entirely outside of the ordinary American judicial system. Exactly what, just days ago, Obama opposed vocally.
What to say? Obama’s remarks over the last couple of days are utterly inconsistent and intellectually baffling. He should level with the American people and tell them exactly what system he favors and how that meshes with his celebration of the Supreme Court’s expansion of rights for terror suspects. And even that is politically risky. As Jake Tapper puts it:
McCain is accurate when he says that the signal from the Obama camp right now is that it would extend Habeas Corpus rights to Osama bin Laden . . . Is this conversation really one that the Obama campaign thinks helps their political chances? Regardless of the merits of the jurisprudence argument, Osama bin Laden’s rights are not a good political topic. Maybe in Foggy Bottom conference rooms or at cocktail parties at Sally and Ben’s these things can be discussed and hashed in true Socratic style.
It seems this is a dilemma entirely of Obama’s own making, one that reflects how deeply he may have misread the public’s concern for security and intolerance for engaging in legal shenanigans when it comes to terrorism.