Saturday, March 6, 2010

And Again . . .

In re my post of yesterday about the Obama administration's probable switch from trial of 9/11 terrorists in civil court to the Bush-instituted military commissions, I knew that Glenn Greenwald of Salon magazine would have something to say about this. And indeed he did. And, as usual, he was cogent, forceful, and correct. It's fair to observe, I think, that Greenwald, like many another one of us on the Left who actually believed in Barack Obama and the possibility of substantive change in Washington when he took office, has been appalled by how far Obama has strayed from principles he espoused during the campaign and how many times he has simply done precisely the opposite of what he said he would do.

Here's the general flavor of it:
If, in the face of "GOP demands" that Mohamed be denied a civilian trial, he again reverses himself -- this time on the highest-profile civil liberties decision of his administration -- he will unmistakably reveal himself, even to his most enamored admirers, as someone so utterly devoid not only of principle but also of resolve:  you just blow on him a little and he falls down and shatters into little pieces.
Greenwald, as organized as ever in this presentation (just like the lawyer he is), makes the following points about what the Administration is about to do with these trials:
  • It's going to be quite difficult, even for Obama's most rabid supporters, to deny his fundamental cowardice in this instance. He's been backing off ground he staked out from the beginning. To wit: the FISA vote on telecom immunity, court-sanctioned release of additional prisoner abuse photos, and more.
  •  Obama's supporters have for months defended his decision to try these guys in civil court. What are they going to say now? "that he's shredding the Constitution and trampling on the rule of law?  If they have any intellectual integrity at all, that's what they will have to say.   The reality is that this praise for Obama never made any sense -- how can one claim that civilian trials are compelled by "our values" and "the rule of law" and praise Obama for following those principles when he's simultaneously denying civilian trials to most detainees? -- but since that's the argument they made to defend him, they should follow that through to its logical conclusion if he reverses Holder's decision."
  • This move by Obama is politicizing the justice department every bit as much as Bush and Alberto Gonzalez ever did. Yet more hypocrisy we're expected to swallow.
  • "the political excuse being offered -- that this will help secure votes to fund the closing of Guantanamo -- makes absolutely no sense for several reasons (aside from the fact that it borders on corruption to override the DOJ's decisions about prosecutions based on political horse-trading).  As The Post article makes clear, the objections to trying these defendants in a civilian court comes "mainly from Republicans," who only have 41 seats in the Senate.  If Republicans want to de-fund the closing of Guantanamo, it will be the GOP -- not the Obama White House -- which will need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in order to enact that ban . . . "
You think any of this wisdom is going to make any difference? I don't. This administration has a death wish.
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