Tuesday, June 17, 2008


In follow-up interviews, Barack Obama has elaborated on his earlier remarks about the treatment of detainees -- and some people don't get what he's saying. They think he's waffling or "walking back" what he said earlier. He isn't:

"... without giving full blown rights to those who are being held, we can set up a system of due process, and when I said that the administration didn't even try to do that, what I have consistently said is that rather than figure out how do we effectively hold these folks, detain them, provide them with some due process, try them, lock them up, the administration decided to take a bunch of short cuts." ...

"We don't have to treat them in the same way that we would treat a criminal suspect in the U.S., but we should abide by the Geneva conventions...."

Asked by Richard Wolffe of Newsweek what he would suggest be done with detainees, Obama said "we can lock them up in military facilities on U.S. soil in the same way that we locked them up in Gitmo....

"It does not have to be before a U.S. district court," Obama said, "but if we provided some modicum of due process, we can have confidence that we've got the right people, that we're not wasting time on the wrong people. We can send a message to the world that we continue to abide by the standards of rule of law, and we can actually be more effective in our pursuit of terrorism."

Allahpundit of Hot Air, who despite his ridiculous name is usually one of the most sensible right-wing bloggers, can't quite get himself to believe that this is sincere, even as he acknowledges that it's no flip-flop:

In fairness, this isn't the general election pander it looks like. He alluded to trying jihadis under the UCMJ, as opposed to normal criminal statutes, near the end of his big foreign policy speech last August (the same one in which he talked about invading Pakistan) and his floor statement on granting habeas rights two years ago proposed limiting claims to the question of whether the petitioner was being wrongfully held, not whether his cell at Gitmo is too small, etc. Even so, I'm curious as to what's motivating this compromise. Is there any logic behind it or is it a simple something-for-both-sides political solution?

But that's just it -- it's not a compromise. Or at least I assume it isn't, because what Obama is saying is essentially what I've believed all along, and I bet it makes sense to a lot of you, too.

It's never been important to me whether these guys are tried in civil courts -- it's only been important that there's due process as it's understood by the civilized world. They can go through the civil justice system, or be subject to military justice,with different procedures and rules of evidence -- I don't care; I've never cared. Hell, they can be subject to a process expressly concocted for them by the executive branch -- that's fine in theory -- but the process has to have been created in good faith, not like the Bush administration's kangaroo-court system.

Right-wingers are falling for their own rhetoric here. They're so wedded to the idea that we want full civil trials for terrorism suspects, with all possible bells and whistles, that they've never even bothered to learn that a lot of us wouldn't object to another reasonable procedure. So they just don't get it.

No comments: