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Cowardice

The Obama Department of Justice has announced that it is giving up on the original plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged leader of the 9/11 plot, in a regular court in New York City and will instead use a military tribunal in Guantanamo. This is shameful. As Glenn Greenwald says:

Indeed, as I’ve documented before — virtually every country that suffers horrible Terrorist attacks — Britain, Spain, India, Indonesia — tries the accused perpetrators in its regular court system, on their own soil, usually in the city that was attacked. The U.S. — Land of the Free and Home of the Brave — stands alone in being too afraid to do so.

Related to that: the notion that political opinion in America would not allow Obama to do anything differently on these issues is empirically disproven; he ran on a platform of opposing all the measures he now supports and won decisively. By itself, that proves that — when these debates are engaged rather than conceded — these positions are politically sustainable. Obama adopts Bush Terrorism policies because he wants to and has no reason not to — not because doing so is a political necessity.

Finally — and as is usually true for this excuse — the notion that “Congress made him do it” is totally false: aside from the fact that the Obama administration long ago announced that it would retain the military commission system, the White House — long before Congress acted to ban transfers of detainees to the U.S. — removed decision-making power from the DOJ in the KSM case and made clear it would likely reverse Holder’s decision.

[UPDATE: Dahlia Lithwick also excoriates the Obama administration on its reversal.]

Elsewhere, Jason Ditz recounts the history of excuses on not closing Guantanamo.

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