Dick Cheney concedes to Sean Hannity in an interview worth viewing in its entirety here that he had Obama pegged wrong: Cheney thought Obama was “a liberal Democrat, but conventional in a sense,” but the president has turned out to be “more radical than that.” This portion of the interview centers on the KSM trial, which Cheney dubs a “huge mistake.” Cheney recounts the historic and legal precedents in which military tribunals have been used rather than civilian trials. By affording KSM a civilian trial, we are giving him “a huge platform” where he will be able to “proselytize” to a ”whole new generation of terrorists.” We are, says Cheney, about to “give aid and comfort” to the enemy and run the risk of making KSM “as important or more important than Osama bin Laden — and we will have made it possible.” While pleading that he is not a lawyer, Cheney picks up on the contradiction between Eric Holder’s assurance that this is a slam-dunk certain conviction and the requirements of a fair, impartial trial.
The interview raises several points. First, as vilified as Cheney has been for years by the mainstream media, his arguments are widely accepted now, and his criticisms of Obama’s atrocious decision are shared by a large majority of the American people. When the administration and their media spinners repeatedly brush him off as “unpopular,” they are, of course, throwing out a non sequitur in place of reasoned argument.
And that brings us to the second point: since announcing the decision, the administration has yet to adequately answer the very questions Cheney and other conservatives have raised. Why give KSM a forum to spew his jihadist rhetoric and influence millions of potential followers? What guarantees do we have that national intelligence materials won’t be disclosed as they were in previous terrorism trials? What could be more “certain” than allowing KSM to be executed as he requested in the military tribunal system? Holder stumbled through one hearing. He should be brought back and grilled until satisfactory answers are provided.
Finally, the president, thanks to a skittish media, has yet to explain in detail what input he had into the process. We got the “tick tock” on the Afghanistan-war decision-making process but nothing on this decision, which has long-term and serious consequences for national security and the administration of justice. Did the president really tell Holder to deal with this? Did no one from the White House influence the decision?
Cheney remains perhaps the most frequent and painful thorn in the White House’s side. But that’s in large part because neither Congress nor the media are doing their job in asking hard questions and getting to the bottom of how this unprecedented and potentially dangerous judgment was arrived at. However, the voters do get the last say. The KSM trial will and properly should be a subject of debate in the 2010 elections by candidates who supported and opposed the decision. As for the former, they should be held to account for their willingness to fund Holder and Obama’s foolhardy legal escapade.