The Obama administration took a severe blow to its political groin yesterday when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that 911 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed along with four of his accused plotters would be tried by a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay and not in a civilian court.
You may recall that candidate Obama criticized the establishment and use of Guantanamo Bay as a violation of our constitution and an affront to the very ideals and principles that we as Americans hold dear. He called Guantanamo a recruiting tool for terrorists and denounced the prison and the techniques being administrated there as a threat to our society. He also spoke eloquently of how our system of law was more than capable of administering justice to the prisoners detained at Guantanamo. So strong was the President’s belief that Guantanamo should be closed that he signed the order on his very first day in office.
Now, bowing to the concerns of his opponents who fear that Khalid and other Guantanamo prisoners will somehow win acquittal in a civilian court, Obama has grudgingly agreed that the facility will remain open and the trials will be held before a military tribunal.
There are two important things to consider here.
First, does the President truly believe that our system of justice, a system that we believe sets us apart from any other country in the world, is capable of giving Khalid and his cohorts a fair trial? If he does then why didn’t he exert his political power and demonstrate his leadership in fighting for those beliefs?
Secondly, does the President truly feel that Guantanamo stands in violation of our constitution and an affront to the very ideals and principles that we hold dear. If he holds these beliefs then why didn’t he use his office to defend the constitution as he promised when he took the oath of office?
The truth is no one, including the President, was willing to risk the chance that Khalid and his fellow terrorists might gain acquittal through the civilian courts. A Khalid acquittal would mean the end of Obama’s presidency. So the President has chosen to follow rather than lead.