Max, I agree that it’s good news when the circuit court declines to apply to a foreign battlefield the constitutional protections afforded to Americans in criminal proceedings. (They should have done the same with Guantanamo, but that is water under the bridge.) But it leaves me at a loss to explain what coherent philosophy underlies Obama’s not-Bush national-security policy.
Obama will kill terrorists with drones but wants to try them in public if they manage to get here. (Isn’t that a perverse incentive?) And Obama wants to empty Guantanamo, where detainees have the right to file habeas corpus petitions, but drop any new terrorists we capture into Bagram, where no rules apply.
There are two possible conclusions one might draw. First, there is no coherent vision here, and all the mumbo-jumbo about “returning to our values” was meant to snow the left and to impugn the record of his predecessor, who prevented any attack on the homeland for seven and a half years. Alternatively, Obama believes the war on terror exists solely outside our borders. Reality keeps disrupting this paradigm — Fort Hood, the Christmas Day bomber, the Times Square bomber — which is why the administration insists, until the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, that these are “lone wolves” or “one-off” incidents. If he had correctly labeled these as acts of war by a worldwide jihadist foe, he would then have been forced to concede that the domestic policies he employs for handling terrorists are entirely ill-suited to the threat we face.