Friday, November 13, 2009


Who says Barack Obama hates Fox News? In the middle of sweeps month, he's given Fox a brand-new source of programming that's going to make blood pressures rise, veins pop, and ratings soar -- what a generous guy!

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will be put on criminal trial in New York, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce Friday....

Also expected in the announcement Friday will be plans to hold a military tribunal for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, alleged to have planned the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole....

Rudy Giuliani's going to be spending so much time on Fox denouncing this as The End Of Civilization As We Know It that they're going to have to rent a hotel suite for him near the channel's headquarters -- even though, of course, he was the mayor when we tried Omar Abdel Rahman, the "Blind Sheik," in New York, and also when we tried the African embassy bombers in New York (that trial, by the way, was in early 2001 -- during the administrations of Giuliani and Bush/Cheney).

Cheney's going to be on Fox every three hours as well, as is his daughter. Oh, and there's this:

It was not immediately clear where commission-bound detainees like al-Nashiri might be sent, but a military brig in South Carolina has been high on the list of considered sites.

-- which means we're going to hear endless whining from Lindsey Graham. And if Lindsey Graham is upset, you know the other two stooges, John McCain and Joe Lieberman, are sure to follow.

What a gift to Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch!


Now, would you bet the rent money that Obama's actually going to manage to pull this off? Do you really believe he can't be forced to back down on this?

I have serious doubts -- and this is what drives me crazy about Obama. He takes bold steps -- and then he doesn't have a plan for overcoming serious roadblocks. That's where he is on closing Guantanamo. That's where he seems to be (I know this is a minority opinion) on health care -- it's not at all certain that reform is going to leap the Lieberman/Nelson/Snowe/Stupak/etc. roadblocks regarding abortion and the public option. Is he ready for the firestorm in this case? Is he going to be able to tough it out?

And then the trial itself, if it ever happens. Have these folks really gamed out what they're going to do about evidence that's inadmissible because of torture? You'd naturally assume the answer is yes if they're going forward, but with Obama, I'm just not confident. Sometimes he's cautious and cagey, but at other times he goes for the boldness ... and then gets gobsmacked by something he seems never to have anticipated.

But it probably doesn't matter -- I honestly think none of this will ever happen. I think he's going to cave in response to a massive (and massively dishonest) wave of criticism.


And the bizarre thing is, if the Bush administration hadn't moved the goalposts, I think right-wingers would have been slavering for a trial of these guys in New York. New York! Try to find a sympathetic juror there, Jihad Man!

But that was the evil genius of the Bush administration: the incessant (and inevitably effective) invention of wedge issues as a substitute for governance. Even the most right-leaning Joe Sixpack wouldn't have thought twice about America flying a captured 9/11 suspect in shackles to stand trial here, prior to Bush; the Bushies made Don't let those guys in here!!!! a line in the sand out of whole cloth. The same for torture of people we might want to try in court. Between Cheney's desire for vengeance against the goddamn liberals who brought down Nixon and Rove's search for electoral wedges, that was the main criterion in so much that administration did: How do we get the public on our side while forcing Democrats onto the other side? What do we know Democrats will howl about? What's outrageous enough, but not so outrageous that Mr. and Mrs. America will think it's outrageous?

That was Bush-era governance. And now Obama is stuck with the aftermath. And I'm not sure he has a well thought-out plan even now for dealing with it.

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