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National security flip-flop: Obama to retreat on KSM/Gitmo detainee civilian trials…for now

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 4, 2010 11:48 PM

Scroll down for updates, warnings…

I want to take you back to November 13, 2009, less than four short months ago.

That was the day corruptocrat Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was bringing 9/11 jihadi mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and other Gitmo detainees to NYC for civilian trials. As I noted the day the news broke, it was a Friday. The president was flying off to Asia. Congress was not in session. It was the perfect time to drop a bombshell on the American people. Here is what I wrote at the time:

If this White House thought Tea Party activists were an “angry mob,” wait until they see the backlash from 9/11 family members and their supporters nationwide. We’re not going to sit down and shut up about the reckless, security-undermining Obama 9/10 agenda and conflict-of-interest-ridden AG Eric Holder.

Call them out.

Well, another Friday is upon us. President Obama will be flying off to Asia in a few weeks. Congress is tied up with health care. And now, the White House is retreating in the face of vigilant, unrelenting pressure from 9/11 families and national security groups.

AG Eric Holder, meet the undercarriage of Barack Obama’s bus. Thumpity-thump, via WaPo:

President Obama’s advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

The president’s advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. While Obama has favored trying some terrorism suspects in civilian courts as a symbol of U.S. commitment to the rule of law, critics have said military tribunals are the appropriate venue for those accused of attacking the United States.

…The administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the president’s legal advisers are finalizing their review of the cases of Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators. Asked about the process, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that “no decisions have been made.”

Privately, administration officials are bracing for the ire of disappointed liberals and even some government lawyers should the administration back away from promises to use civilian courts to adjudicate the cases of some of the 188 detainees who remain at Guantanamo.

“Even some government lawyers.” Yeah, thanks to Fox News, conservative media/blog pressure, and the 9/11 families backlash against Holder’s national security stone wall, we know which ones.

Along with KSM, the Gitmo detainees whom Holder had planned to dump in Big Apple courtrooms were Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni; Walid bin Attash, also a Yemeni; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, a Pakistani who is Mohammed’s nephew; and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, a Saudi. They were first arraigned in June 2008.

Now, here’s the catch:

If Obama accepts the likely recommendation of his advisers, the White House may be able to secure from Congress the funding and legal authority it needs to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and replace it with a facility within the United States. The administration has failed to meet a self-imposed one-year deadline to close Guantanamo…

…Top Obama advisers have been negotiating with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) — a vocal critic of trying the Sept. 11 suspects in civilian court — in pursuit of a deal that would secure his help in closing Guantanamo…

To close the detention center at Guantanamo, the administration needs funding to acquire and refurbish a prison in the United States, probably a state-owned maximum-security facility in Thomson, Ill. Because Congress has barred the transfer to the United States of all detainees except those destined for prosecution, the White House needs legal authority to move prisoners it plans to hold in some form of indefinite detention.

An interagency review of all cases at Guantanamo Bay concluded that about 50 prisoners will have to be held in some form of prolonged detention without trial, because the evidence against them was obtained through the use of harsh interrogation methods or because its revelation in court would compromise intelligence gathering. The government says the detainees are too dangerous to release.

So, even as they pull back from civilian trials in NYC, Obama is still trying to bring the Gitmolympics home to Illinois.

Keep calling them out. Keep America Safe.

***

Reminder – KSM’s confession. Pass it on:

***

Andy McCarthy calls a head fake:

The real agenda here is to close Gitmo. That’s the ball to keep your eye on. The Post is trying to soften the opposition to shuttering the detention camp by portraying beleaguered, reasonable Obama as making a great compromise that will exasperate the Left. The idea is to strengthen Sen. Lindsey Graham’s hand in seeking reciprocal compromise from our side.

This, however, is a matter of national security, not horse-trading over a highway bill. You don’t agree to do a stupid thing that endangers the country just because your opposition has magnanimously come off its insistence that you do two stupid things that endanger the country.

If a deal to grant military commissions in exchange for closing Gitmo happens, it is a major win for the Obama Left and an enormous loss for public safety.

We were headed inexorably toward military commissions for the 9/11 plotters. We don’t need to cut a bad deal to get it. Congress was not going to approve funding to transport trained terrorists to the U.S., nor to hold civilian trials. As I said, we’ve already got military commissions for some enemy combatants, and if we play this out, we are likely to get them for most if not all of the combatant war crimes trials. And we are likely to get them at Gitmo — the best place to have them, and the place on which the public has expended hundreds of millions of dollars to construct a safe, humane, fastidiously Islamo-friendly prison with state-of-the-art trial facilities.

Sgt. Tim Sumner: of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Secure America warns:

Last June was the last time the White House hosted a conference call with family members of the victims of 9/11 and the Cole bombing. During that call, the briefer said Senator Patrick Leahy would propose changes in the Military Commission Act, using the “Warner-McCain-Graham bill of 2006.”

Only, no such bill ever existed. Yet it did reveal that Senator Graham was already secretly negotiating with the White House. The actual bill was one by Senator John Warner, with no co-sponsors, that four Republicans voted in committee to allow to be brought to the Senate floor as a substitute amendment for the Military Commissions Act. When the substitute was put forward, even Warner voted against it (as did Graham) and both McCain and Snowe did not vote.

We have been conned before by this White House so do not believe everything you read in the newspaper. We need to soon hear from Senator Graham the details of what he is proposing.

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