Reopening the Bush Playbook

It is hard to argue that President Obama was swept into office in 2008 riding on anything other than a wave of Bush hatred. Obama was different. Obama was hope. Obama was going to be change. I find it very ironic, then, every time the realities of being President of the United States shake the foundations of this crumbling fantasy.

Remember how the Obama administration was going to close Gitmo? How terrorists were going to be tried in criminal trials and not military tribunals? According to Washington Post, that’s one more area where Hope’n’Change has been shelved and Obama has turned to the Bush playbook once again.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, will probably remain in military detention without trial for the foreseeable future, according to Obama administration officials.

The administration has concluded that it cannot put Mohammed on trial in federal court because of the opposition of lawmakers in Congress and in New York. There is also little internal support for resurrecting a military prosecution at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The latter option would alienate liberal supporters.

The administration asserts that it can hold Mohammed and other al-Qaeda operatives under the laws of war, a principle that has been upheld by the courts when Guantanamo Bay detainees have challenged their detention.

The White House has made it clear that President Obama will ultimately make the decision, and a federal prosecution of Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators has not been ruled out, senior officials said. Still, they acknowledge that a trial is unlikely to happen before the next presidential election and, even then, would require a different political environment.The last paragraph is telling. This is what you would have to describe as a lose-lose-lose situation. Pushing an ultra-liberal approach to terrorist trials would upset middle of the country and given the results of the midterms, that’s something Obama can ill-afford. Strike one. Not carrying through on yet one more campaign promise will upset the far left and spur another round of “Obama has lost his magic” editorials and blog posts. Strike two. The far right is just going to point fingers and say I-told-you-so. Strike three.

It would seem the best approach–and the one Obama is going to take–is to just lock KSM away without a trial of any sort and hope people on all sides forget about him. Can you imagine the outcry if President Bush has come to the same conclusion?

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