Saturday, November 14, 2009

Curioser and curioser

James Taranto who writes the Best on the Web column in the Wall Street Journal (on the website) analyzes the peculiar decision of putting Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four others on trial in New York City (I wonder how its inhabitants who tend to suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome will like that, incidentally) while keeping military tribunals for less important enemy combatants found not in uniform.

His conclusions sound accurate enough:
As Morris Davis, a retired military prosecutor, argued the other day in The Wall Street Journal, under the administration's plan, "the standard of justice for each detainee will depend in large part upon the government's assessment of how high the prosecution's evidence can jump and which evidentiary bar it can clear." Detainees will get a "fair trial" in civilian court only if their conviction is assured. By implication, that suggests that detainees who go before military commissions will get an unfair trial. Presumably the administration would deny this and say the commission trials will be fair too. But if so, why is such a trial not good enough for Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?

The answer seems to be that the administration is conducting a limited number of civilian trials of high-profile terrorists for show, so as to win "credibility" with the international left. These trials will differ from an ordinary show trial in that the process will be fair even though the verdict is predetermined. But people who wrongly think that either military commissions or detention without trial are unjust will not be satisfied with some detainees getting civilian trials--unless, of course, they are simply eager to be impressed by Barack Obama.
In other words, this is President Obama playing at being Candidate Obama and trying to be all things to all men so that they vote for him. We see a similar pattern in what is becoming an almost pathological inability to make up his mind about what he shoudl do in Afghanistan. Hamlet is not a good role model for the President of the United States and its Commander-in-Chief. The man spent two years campaigning when he should have been taking part in debates in the Senate; he spent more money than all other candidates, his Democrat rivals as well as the Republicans, put together. What did he think the Presidency entailed?

This is a serious worry and a problem for all of us in the West as the United States is still the strongest country and its leader, the leader of the free world (somewhat less free than it used to be but not as bad as it was in the seventies). It would be nice to have something better than the protagonist in Roger McGough's poem:
I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader
Can I be the leader?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I'm the leader
I'm the leader

OK what shall we do?
Never mind Bush, I might start missing Clinton. Well, maybe not. But more and more do I agree with Glenn Reynolds that another Carter presidency is becoming the best case scenario.


  1. And we in the UK have got The Heir to Blair & Co. straining in the slips.

    Note; for any cricket fan reading this, I am alluding to Shakespeare: Henry V., iii. 1.

  2. Well Helen what can I say! In the last week this administration is truly showing how clueless it is. They want to try KSM in New York City Civil Courts. What a circus that will be in the shadows of the World Trade Center. That is not all. Today on Drudge the top picture is the President of the United States bowing yes bowing to the Emporor of Japan. And he commits a mighty faux pas by touching the Emporor at the same time. As an American the embarrassement (sp?) of this president continues to make me cringe.

  3. I saw the picture Natalie. The Emperor, I thought, looked a little bemused. Just as with Brown and Miliband, our Foreign Secreatary, I find it hard to understand why there are no advisers who can explain what one can and what one cannot do.

  4. Helen,don't you know Obama can do anything?