Jewish World Review Nov. 23, 2009 / 6 Kislev 5770
Annals of ObamaLaw, Or: Verdict First, Trial Afterward
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Worried about trying the ringleader of the 9/11 terrorists and four of his close associates in a civilian courtroom?
Don't be, says our president. He knows just how the trial will turn out Khalid Sheik Mohammed will be convicted and executed. We have his word on it.
He makes the trial sound like just a formality. And here some of us thought trials didn't have a predetermined outcome, not in America. Naive us.
Despite all the assurances from on high, almost every aspect of this coming trial-cum-circus troubles. From its hazy conception to, according to the president and his equally cocksure attorney general, foregone conclusion.
The prospect of moving this trial from safe and secure Guantanamo to bustling downtown
What possibly could go wrong? What couldn't? Some of us more cautious types worry that legal technicalities and complications will result in an endless trial without sure result, that the trial will require needless expense (the figure of
Pick your favorite downside of this change of venue. There are lots to choose from. And others will become evident only as this show trial gets on the road. It promises to have a longer run than any
Don't forget the effect of such a spectacle on the immediate victims of the
To what end? So the president and his attorney general can prove an ideological point that the criminal code is superior to military justice in these high-profile cases?
When this administration disparages or even tries to delegitimize military courts, it overlooks the fact that military commissions antedate federal courts in our history. Among the first such commissions was one appointed by a general of the Continental Army named
Few things so reveal the ahistorical approach of this born-yesterday administration than its bypassing military law except, of course, when military commissions suit its purposes. In this case, Messrs. Obama and Holder, Esqs., have chosen to gamble on the federal courts despite all the clear and increasingly present dangers such a decision will raise.
Not that he's prejudging the case, our lawyer-president was quick to add, having just prejudged the case.
If this trial were being conducted where it should be in a secure military courtroom at Guantanamo such statements from the commander-in-chief would be clear evidence of what in military law is called command influence. And be grounds for a mistrial.
That's another way in which military justice is superior to the civilian kind being arranged for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and company. Military law contains safeguards against undue influence.
Yet the president insists on a civilian trial in order to demonstrate the fairness and superiority of civilian courts in such cases even as he proclaims the trial's outcome.
First it was Obamacare. Now the country is about to get Obamalaw, which promises to be a treasure trove of such ironies.
JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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