Campaign hyperbole, meet reality.
The far left has long wanted to turn the war on terror - or as it is known today, the contingency operations on man caused disasters - into a criminal matter subject to all U.S. constitutional safeguards. They were relentless in their overheated attacks on Pres. Bush., particularly over Guantanamo and military tribunals.
Ahh, but then between the activist Supreme Court decision extending, for the first time in history, habeaus rights to all detainees of the military followed thereafter by the election of Obama, the far left was clearly on a straight trajectory to accomplish their goals. Indeed, Obama's first moves as President were to order the closing of Guantanamo and the suspension of all military tribunals.
But it seems that sonething has gone awry on the people's march to utopia.
That something is that Obama understands that he now owns these issues. And that seems to have thrown a new light on the matter.
There is the problem of what to do with the terrorists being held by the US at Guantanamo. Clearly, Obama wants to put some on trial. The problem is, however, that if this is done in an Article III federal court, you will have the tremendous problems of having to divulge intelligence information and bring in witnesses from active operations. It was for this reason that Bush and Congress had set up military commissions - a practice utterly maligned by Obama and the far left. But of course, Obama suspended them soon after taking office. Now utopianism has run face first into reality. The upshot - from Attorney General Eric Holder the other day - “It may be difficult for some of those high-value detainees to be tried in a normal federal court.” Yes, friends and neighbors, as the NYT reports today, it appears that those kangaroo courts so hated by the left are to be reinstated by Obama. As the NYT article makes clear, the ACLU and others who led the charge against these commissions are not amused. Update: That said, Jules Crittenden is.
That is not all though. What of those we do not intend to charge? Obama is busy trying to offload these terrorists back to their countries of origin. Unfortunately for Obama, those same lefties who demanded the closure of that moral blot on their world, Guantanamo, are now yawning and shrugging in response to a request to take on some of the prisoners. That itself reaises yet another problem.
These terrorists who are not charged and not taken by their home countries will have to be moved onto U.S. soil. If a court then rules in their favor on a habeas petition, then it may well be that Obama is forced to release these individuals onto American streets. And indeed, something very close to that precise scenario is already playing out sa regards the Uighur Chinese. They were captured while attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. They are set to be released into the U.S. shortly.
And let's not forget: Obama recently found himself dealing with the tip of the iceberg on the headaches and threats to national security caused by the Supreme Court's Boumedine decision - a decision he and the entire far left fully supported. To briefly recap, the Geneva Convention says that any combatants can be held for the duration of hostilities, no due process needed. Boumedine gave all detainees a right to come before a judge in U.S. courts on a habeas petition. In a habeas hearing, the government must prove that it's detention of the petitioner is justified. Theoretically, that means exposure of intelligence information and the recall of the people involved in the capture to testify in Court. It is truly an overreach of epic proportions into the enumerated powers of the other two branches of government. My guess is that it will prove to be the most costly decision ever rendered by the Supreme Court. And now Obama gets to live with it.
Indeed, Obama already tried an end run around that decision with the Justice Department arguing that prisoners held in Bagram AFB in Afghanistan were beyond the reach of the U.S. courts. His intent was apparently to use it as an alternative to Guantanamo and other CIA secret holding facilities, all of which he ordered closed - with much moral preening - just a few days into office. That now has brought all detainees into the reach of the Court. As the NYT explained, discussing a lower court's recent decision denying that to Obama:
The importance of Bagram as a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq has increased under the Obama administration, which prohibited the Central Intelligence Agency from using its secret prisons for long-term detention and ordered the military prison at Guantánamo closed within a year. The administration had sought to preserve Bagram as a haven where it could detain terrorism suspects beyond the reach of American courts, telling Judge Bates in February that it agreed with the Bush administration’s view that courts had no jurisdiction over detainees there.
Judge Bates . . . was not persuaded. He said transferring captured terrorism suspects to the prison inside Afghanistan and claiming they were beyond the jurisdiction of American courts “resurrects the same specter of limitless executive power the Supreme Court sought to guard against” in its 2008 ruling that Guantánamo prisoners have a right to habeas corpus.
Read the entire article. The headaches have only begun on that front.
The long and short of all of this - Obama, at least, is getting a quick lesson in reality. Will see if he is able to navigate all the landmines he and his ilk have created. If he does not, then we are in for a long and dangerous next few years.