The Obama administration's anti-war campaign rhetoric and naive first-year promises continue to collide with reality. And happily, reality continues to prevail. The Obama administration has finally admitted, I think, that the Bush administration's decision to detain al Qaeda operatives and terrorists at Gitmo was sensible. It wasn't driven by some bizarre desire to mistreat terrorists, but instead was the best way to address security concerns without keeping them in Afghanistan or inside the United States.
It also turns out that the military commission trials too were a sensible decision. Civilian trials threaten the revelation of valuable intelligence in a covert war where hostilities are still ongoing. Military commissions allow a fair trial to be held but one that does not blow our wartime advantages. Meanwhile, the Obama administration's track record has been poor -- it was lucky to get the limited convictions that it has. Obama folks owe an apology to the Bush administration for their unjust criticism of military trials.
It should also be noted that Obama did not come to this turnabout after reasoned consideration alone. I think there are significant figures in the administration that would still love to close Gitmo tomorrow and give every terrorist the same exact trials reserved for Americans who commit garden-variety crimes. Congress dragged the administration kicking and screaming to this destination by cutting off funds for the transfer of any detainees from Gitmo to the U.S. This effectively used Congress's sole power of the purse to prevent Obama from making a grievous national security mistake. The new Congress should continue to keep the ban in its Defense spending bills to prevent Obama from another 180 degree turn.
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