Commentary-Justice Obama Style

Justice, Obama Style

  The Obama Administration’s decision to confer the full panoply of Constitutional rights on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the mastermind of the 9/11 hijacked airliner attacks, and Uman Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow apart an airliner over Detroit on Christmas, is a sham masquerading as democratic justice. 

KSM long ago admitted that he planned the attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon and said he welcomed a martyr’s death. Abdudlmutallab initially volunteered that he was recruited, trained and equipped by Al Qaeda in Yemen, only to clam up the moment he was provided an attorney.  His failed attempt to set off a powerful explosive, however, was witnessed by a planeload of passengers. 

After the 9/11 attacks, the Supreme Court held that it was legally appropriate to treat foreign terrorists as enemy combatants and try them before military tribunals. 

Why then is the Administration providing them all the protections of US law as if they were American citizens, with the right to remain silent, and with the presumption of innocence, unless or until proven guilty in a court of law? 

Can Abdulmutallab’s court appointed lawyer challenge the admissibility of his client’s voluntary admissions after capture, on the basis that he was not read his Miranda rights nor represented by an attorney? 

Can the young Nigerian now be induced to tell what he may know about other planned Al Qaeda attacks by being offered a plea bargained lesser sentence, as suggested by John Brennan, the President’s counter-terrorism expert? Brennen was asked on a TV talk show why Abdulmutallab wasn’t categorized as an enemy combatant, subject to interrogation and trial before a military tribunal?  “Well, because,” he said, “first of all we’re a nation of laws.”

And he added that the Administration intends to seek further information by offering a plea bargain. As he put it: “A lot of people as they understand what they’re facing and their lawyers recognize that there is advantage to talking to us in terms of plea agreements, we’re going to pursue that.” 

No doubt before Brennan appeared as a Administration spokesman on television, he was thoroughly briefed by White House lawyers and spinmeisters.  They should have provided him a more convincing brief. 

President Obama once taught Constitutional law.  His Attorney General, Eric Holder, is a former federal judge. And yet, in the case of KSM, they announced that–have no fear–he will be found guilty by a US jury.  Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? They seemed to turn it on its head. But, of course, he’d al;ready admitted guilt.

And Holder went even further, which officials of the Executive Branch are not supposed to do in commenting on an upcoming trial.  He said that even in the remote chance that KSM would not be found guilty, he would not be set free. He’s an enemy combatant, after all.  How’s that again?

But, Holder said, it’s not up to KSM to choose how he would be tried.

In the case of Major Nidal Hasan, who  shot and killed 13 fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood, Tex, he is an American citizen.  There is no evidence he was recruited for his killing spree. He had a long history of anguish over US military operations against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In his case, he is entaitled to the protections of US law. 

But President Obama appears determined to demonstrate to the Muslim world that he has turned over a leaf from that of the Bush Administration, by closing Guantanamo, by investigating whether legal punishment should be meted out to CIA interrogators post 9/11, and by providing federal criminal trials to some terrorists–but not all. Military tribunals will continue to be employed in certain cases, but the circumstances are murky.

Anyone care to take a legal exam in the Obama classroom?


One response to “Commentary-Justice Obama Style

  1. Thought provoking and insightful. Your command of the subject is evident. You make really good points… painful to think about, but valid nonetheless.

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