Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post, takes Holder and the Obama Administration to task for using the civilian court to try Ahmed Ghailani and losing the case. (A minor conviction was gotten.)
The case of embassy bomber Ahmed Ghailani - the only Guantanamo Bay detainee the Obama administration has brought to trial in the United States - was intended to increase public faith in civilian prosecutions. But a terrorist hugging his lawyers in victory can’t be considered a confidence builder. Days before the Ghailani verdict, the White House admitted that Mohammed, because of massive, public resistance, would not be seeing the inside of a Manhattan courtroom anytime soon. “Gitmo,” one official told The Washington Post, “is going to remain open for the foreseeable future.”
We’ve been personally through this type of trial before. The case of Sami Al-Arian. The weaknesses in both cases was pretty much the same-- the trial took place years after the event in question, many charges were brought, and the evidence is confusing. In my opinion, more than the layperson can digest.
So, Gerson asks the question,
Where do these developments leave Holder, for whom failure is not only an option but a habit? A recent profile by Wil Hylton in GQ attempts to put his tenure in the best possible light - the lonely, naive man of principle undone by politics. But the portrait is unintentionally devastating. Holder clearly views the war on terrorism as a distraction. “The biggest surprise I’ve had in this job,” he told Hylton, “is how much time the national security issues take.”
By insisting on civilian trials for terrorists, the Obama-Holder team embarked on a dangerous course of action. Obama needs a way to back off this course and get the next trials before military tribunals, where they belong.
National security is not a traffic infraction violation. It’s life and death stuff and we should learn to play by the rules need for it. And that’s what I think.
Read the full Op-ed.