More On The Military Tribunals Backflip

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 16, 2009

The Wall Street Journal does an excellent job in detailing the degree to which the Obama Administration has adopted the Bush Administration’s policies on military tribunals:

White House officials insist that their tribunals will be kinder and gentler, stressing additional due-process safeguards for terrorists on trial for war crimes. But the debate that has convulsed the political system since 9/11 isn’t about procedural nuances. It has been over core principles, with Democrats decrying a “shadow justice system” and claiming that “Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists.”

The latter quote is from a speech by Senator Obama in 2007 denouncing “a legal framework that does not work.” He also referred to the civilian criminal justice system and courts martial that Democrats then claimed, and many still claim, are the right venues for antiterror prosecutions. After the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision gave terrorists habeas rights, Mr. Obama again laid into the Bush Administration’s “legal black hole” and “dangerously flawed legal approach,” which “undermines the very values we are fighting to defend.”

As the editorial points out, the Administration’s promises of better detainee access to quality legal representation and the restriction of hearsay evidence is undermined by the fact that detainees have had excellent access to legal representation even before the Obama Administration decided to step in, and that the current hearsay rules are “indistinguishable” from the rules employed by the International Criminal Court, which people on the Obama side of the American partisan divide keep telling us we need to be subjected to. The only way it could be any more obvious that the Obama Administration has decided to mirror the Bush Administration approach is if they got Dick Cheney and David Addington to administer the military commissions.

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