Thursday, August 07, 2008

Have military commissions been worth it?

Op ed at the LA Times:
Have military commissions been worth it?
"Regular courts could have convicted and sent to prison more truly dangerous terrorists."

"On Nov. 13, 2001, President Bush issued a military order authorizing trials of suspected terrorists before military commissions. Terrorists, the president warned, may cause "mass deaths and ... place at risk the continuity of the operations of the United States government." And only military commissions would suffice to bring terrorists to justice, because "given the danger to the safety of the United States" and the unique "nature" of terrorism, "it is not practicable to apply ... the principles of law and the rules of evidence generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the United States district courts."

So how're those commissions working out for you, Mr. President?

On Wednesday, after 6 1/2 years of controversy and delay, the administration finally scored a "victory" in a military commission trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gaining the conviction of one terrorist mastermind.

Osama bin Laden, you ask?

Ah, no. He's still living it up somewhere in Pakistan, enjoying a good chuckle at our expense.

Wednesday instead saw the conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who fessed up to being ... Bin Laden's driver. He was accordingly convicted of the "war crime" of "providing material support for terrorism." Next up before the military commissions: Bin Laden's pastry chef, for providing culinary support to terrorism...

are these guys really the worst of the worst, evil terrorist masterminds who so threaten "the continuity of the operations of the United States government" that they couldn't possibly be tried in U.S. civilian courts?"

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