Report: Deal for 9/11 Military Commission Trials Just About Done
There's a really unfortunate report in the Wall St. Journal saying the ink is almost dry on a deal to try the 9/11 suspects in military commission trials rather than federal criminal courts.
Under the deal, spurred by (of course) Lindsey Graham and Rahm Emanuel, and White House counsel Robert Bauer, 48 Guantanamo detainees would be held indefinitely without charges. And,
Mr. Graham wants civilian courts to be reserved for low-level Al Qaeda operatives and terrorist financiers, a far smaller group than previously considered.
White House and Democratic aides in the Senate said what they called an opening "proffer" from Sen. Graham won't be the final outcome. But the broad framework of a deal is done. "We're now at the 'getting serious' stage," said one senior Democratic Senate aide.
A military courthouse would be built at Thomson Correctional Facility in Illinois, which the Feds will buy and renovate as a maximum security prison. Because that benefits Illinois, you can expect Dick Durbin to lend his support. Also being recruited: Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D, Mich) and Ben Cardin (D-MD.)
After the deal, Attorney General Eric Holder will spend less time on terrorism:
Having lost this battle, Mr. Holder is expected to spend more time pursuing such Justice issues as financial fraud, civil rights and changes to crack cocaine sentencing laws, though an aide notes that national security cases will remain his top responsibility.
What's the difference between indefinite detention at Guantanamo and in Illinois? None, other than a change in zip code. Shame on the Dems for caving on this.
The point in closing Guantanamo was to stop holding prisoners there. That could be done by moving the 9/11 defendants and those facing military commission trials to prisons and military brigs in the U.S. (including Supermax in Colorado and the one in South Carolina where Jose Padilla was held for years) and sending the remainder home or to third countries.
If Republicans wouldn't pay for Thomson, so be it. We have enough Supermaxes to house the fewer than 75 remaining detainees that have not been cleared for relase. We don't need Thomson. If Republicans want to pay to keep Gitmo open with no prisoners, let them.
Why couldn't DOJ just file charges in federal court, give Congress 90 days notice and then move the defendants to federal prisons in the districts where the charges were filed? Whether Congress blocks the funds for holding the actual trials is a separate issue from moving them when charges are filed.
I bet Congress would fund the trials pretty quickly as soon as the first defendant files a motion to dismiss based on speedy trial grounds, which if won, would mean their freedom. Obama should stick to his principles on this one. He's getting bluffed and kicked around by Lindsey Graham and it's going to cost him a lot of liberal votes in 2012. And for what? Republicans will criticize and blame Obama in 2012 for the military commissions because the 9/11 defendants will probably still be appealing the results and they'll say it's his fault. Obama can't win with Republicans, he ought to stop trying to appease them.
Obama: From hope you can believe in to disappointment you can count on. What a legacy he's building.
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