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The End to Obama’s Ill-Conceived Terrorism Policies

Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman are seeking to dislodge Obama’s criminal-justice approach to terrorism. This report explains:

Republican Senator John McCain and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman offered the measure in the wake of the controversy over prosecuting the accused Christmas Day airplane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in a U.S. criminal court instead of a military trial.

Under the proposed legislation, individuals who are deemed to be “suspected unprivileged enemy belligerents” would be held in military custody, interrogated for possible intelligence and tried in a military court.

A special team, known as the High-Value Interrogation Team, would recommend which suspects would be sent to the military and the final decision would be made by the U.S. attorney general and Defense Department secretary, according to the proposed legislation.

“These are not common criminals. They are war criminals and they should be treated according to the rules of the law of war,” Lieberman told reporters.

Well, the senators’ move seems to be well timed. We finally may be inching toward a bipartisan consensus and a reversal of the Obami’s misguided criminal-justice model. For along comes this report that a remarkable 180 is in the works:

President Barack Obama’s advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

The president’s advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. While Obama has favored trying some terrorism suspects in civilian courts as a symbol of U.S. commitment to the rule of law, critics have said military tribunals are the appropriate venue for those accused of attacking the United States.

Well, well, it seems not-not-Bush anti-terror policies may be the order of the day. Yes, it will be a humiliating admission of error and a stunning turnaround for the Obami. They spent the campaign and over a year in office puffing their chests in moral indignation and declaring Bush’s approach to be lawless (it wasn’t) and a betrayal of values (disproved by that bipartisan consensus that’s hemming in the Obami’s legal experimentation).

Yes, the netroot crowd will go bonkers. (“Privately, administration officials are bracing for the ire of disappointed liberals and even some government lawyers should the administration back away from promises to use civilian courts to adjudicate the cases of some of the 188 detainees who remain at Guantanamo.”) But what of it? The civilian trial gambit was ill-conceived and unworkable, and the momentary mortification experienced by the moral grandstanders — the attorney general and the president – is a small price to pay to get our terrorism policies back on track.

The ACLU executive director groused:

If President Obama reverses Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 defendants in criminal court and retreats to using the Bush military commissions, he deals a death blow to his own Justice Department, breaks a clear campaign promise to restore the rule of law and demonstrates that the promises to his constituents are all up for grabs.

Well, it’s true that such a move would cut the legs out from under the Justice Department, but a housecleaning seems to be the next move. If the former terrorists’ lawyers’ advice has proved to be unworkable, perhaps they should go back to their law firms along with the hapless attorney general. And as for the trail littered with broken campaign promises, well, the ACLU can get in line with many other aggrieved groups that believed Obama’s campaign spiel.

The bottom line: the Bush anti-terror policies, one by one, are being vindicated by a president who is learning the hard way that much of what he said and ostensibly believed about the war against Islamic fundamentalists is wrong. And if he really has learned something, he’ll start referring to the enemy as such.