This past Friday US Attorney General Eric Holder stood before a legion of journalists to answer questions regarding the fate of 19 Guantanamo Detainees. In October of 2000, terrorists attacked an American destroyer ship, the USS Cole, in Aden Arbor, Yemen. The suicide bombers killed 17 US soldiers and injured 39 others. And it was only 11 months thereafter that similarly motivated Islamist extremists turned their sites to the city of New York. Nearly 3,000 people were killed on September 11, 2001 and the detained hijackers are now believed to have been working with a network of fellow-conspirators the world round. This past week, thousands were both stunned and outraged by the news that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Gitmo detainees would be brought to American soil for trial before a Federal Judge.
With their newly anticipated federal and predominantly public platform many rightly anticipate a courtroom circus much like that which manifested during the trial of Ramzi Yousef, the perpetrator of the first World Trade Center bombings. Opponents of US Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision argue the US Justice System will be transformed into a disgraceful open stage for the conspirators and their rhetoric. In his first press conference on the subject, the Attorney General attempted to alleviate much of the controversy by arguing his confidence that the conspirators would be tried and likely convicted of the charges with which they would soon be charged. Not surprisingly however, Holder articulated every point save the actual wording of those charges. And if his vague wording was not frustrating enough, there was the matter of his logic.
According to Holder, his decisions regarding the trial location of the Gitmo detainees could not be based upon a desired outcome rather a protection of the integrity of the American legal system. The trial of terrorists on American soil, Holder argued, was driven by his responsibility to uphold the “Rule of Law.” When asked however about the possibility the detainees might be acquitted by virtue of some unanticipated technicality, Holder insisted all cases had been meticulously pored over so that only those which could be reasonably ensured a conviction would be brought before the Federal Court. Time and again, the Attorney General reiterated his confidence that the outcomes would be successful. A prosecutor himself, Holder insisted that if he had been concerned any of these cases might lead to a negative outcome, he almost certainly would have opted for a different course of action. But as one reporter justly queried, how could one possibly consider it within the spirit of the “The Rule of Law” to try certain cases in the Federal Court System as opposed to the Military Tribunals based upon an assessment of which could be guaranteed victories and which could not? And specious logic aside, many opponents have expressed their concern over the degree to which the United States Government might now be forced to divulge classified information during the impending discovery process.
What will and will not be permitted will be a subject of inestimable political controversy. When pressed, Holder argued his responsibilities rested squarely within the legal realm, assuring his audience politics had neither played a role in his decision nor deserved any place in the legal process. “I am supposed to do what is best in the eyes of the law,” the Attorney General argued. But most can agree these trials will be anything but apolitical. Some suspect the trials will eventually mutate from a forum for the conviction of terrorists into a roundabout indictment of the Bush Administration’s interrogation policies. And of greatest consequence will be the newly passed laws regarding the practice of water boarding. Water boarding now an illegal method of information gathering, a trial before a Federal Judge will prohibit prosecutors from utilizing information acquired during any such interrogation proceeding.
In an effort to transcend the international divisions the Left erroneously insist the Bush Administration brought about, President Obama naiveté has rubbed off his Attorney General. The current administration and many of those appointed by it have spent the better portion of 2009 defending the rights and safety of the most evil and ill-intended among us. Many Americans are now wondering if the same degree of care and protection will ever be afforded those who have risked their lives in the acquisition of life-saving information gathering. With a leadership too intimidated by the enemy to acknowledge even the most obvious of adversaries, from where can we be expected to derive our sense of security. This administration has insisted upon a policy of appeasement, Fort Hood now serving as the first example of the consequences of cow-towing to the enemy. Holder’s ill-conceived plan to afford international terrorists the same civil rights as those enjoyed by domestic civilian criminals is a slap in the face to all those who lost loved ones in the attacks on the USS Cole, the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93. With a Neville Chamberlain on our hands, we can only pray there is a Winston Churchill on the way.