The Obama administration’s announcement this week, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the best known prisoner at the Guantanamo prison, and four other prisoners, will be tried before military tribunals later this year, has not been widely discussed in America. Maybe it’s because so much else is going on: budget negotiations, Libya, Japan?
In early March, it was announced that Guantanamo will not be closed, despite Obama’s explicit promise, and on Monday, Attorney General Holder announced that five of the 172 detainees at Guantanamo will face a military tribunal, and not a civilian court as previously planned.
Both decisions are rooted in political realities after Congress rejected all attempt to close the prison and move the detainees to prisons in the United States, and to initiative civilian trials against the leading terror suspects. Yet, leading commentators are deeply critical:
The decision is “cowardly, stupid, and tragically wrong,” writes Dahlia Lithwick at Slate and calls it a “capitulation”. Amy Davidson’s blog in the New Yorker, entitled “Fear, Shame, and Guantanamo Bay,” criticizes the Obama administration for not fighting enough for the important and fundamental legal issues involved.
I encourage reading these important comments!