Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back to Gitmo

The Obama administration gave up on trying to have a civilian trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Attorney General Eric Holder was not too happy about having Congress tell the Justice Department where to hold the trial, either.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Monday that he has cleared military prosecutors at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to file war-crimes charges against the five detainees in the Sept. 11 case.

Mr. Holder had decided in November 2009 to move the case to a federal civilian courtroom in New York City, but the White House abandoned that plan amid a political backlash.

The shift was foreshadowed by stiffening Congressional resistance to bringing Guantánamo detainees into the United States, and by other recent steps clearing the way for new tribunal trials.

Still, it marked a significant moment of capitulation in the Obama administration’s largely frustrated effort to dismantle counterterrorism architecture left behind by former President George W. Bush. President Obama, in one of his first initiatives, had announced his intention to close the Guantánamo prison in a year, a goal that he failed to fulfill.

It tells you a lot about the people in Congress who apparently don’t have enough faith in the justice system to try a man in open court without getting all freaked out. It empowers the people on trial and makes it look like they can scare the crap out of those big bad butch right-wing American bullies by just going on trial in federal court.