Thursday, November 19, 2009

So What's the "Battlefield"?

Holder and his Republican opponents just spent an afternoon splitting hairs over the definition of "battlefield". The AG explained that since al-Nashiri killed sailors overseas in Yemen while KSM killed mostly civilians in America (apart from the Pentagon), they warrant different court proceedings.

The right remains appalled along with Glenn Greenwald:
-- what convincing rationale can anyone offer to justify giving Mohammed and other 9/11 defendants a real trial in New York? If you're taking the position that military commissions and even indefinite detention are perfectly legitimate tools to imprison people -- as Holder has done -- then what is the answer to the Right's objections that Mohammed himself belongs in a military commission?
Holder never gave a compelling answer other than 'trust me'. Deja vu all over again. Of course Greenwald's beef with Holder is that he won't be using trials for ALL captured GWoT suspects (and doing away with tribunals) because we're not really officially at "war". That leaves no battlefield anywhere, which makes our use of troops anywhere legally tenuous.

But to most people this is a war. And if indeed it is a global war on terror, and AQ are "rootless and stateless" as the 9/11 Commission described them, then it seems logical the battlefield consists of the entire world. Surely AQ considers lower Manhattan part of their battlefield as opposed to a few dusty deserts and caves near Kandahar.

Holder was playing coy at the hearings in suggesting the evidence obtained by waterboarding might not be admissible even in a military tribunal, ie, he has no choice but to bring KSM to the media capital of the world to prosecute, presumably using pre-torture evidence (explained for the media every day as in, 'we couldn't use the good evidence due to Bush's torture', etc). But why? Why can't any of that be used in a tribunal?

After all al-Nashiri was also waterboarded, meaning they will most likely also be using pre-torture evidence gained during the Clinton years (during Holder's reign as deputy AG) to prosecute him for the Cole. It's likely that some of that secret stuff Holder is alluding to will include top secret sensitive from NSA or CIA captures, but won't that also be required during the KSM trial? Confusing, all this.


LASunsett said...

Well praise be...Glenn Greenwald is trying to sound like he has a clue...

I don't know why he is so appalled, he has written countless commentaries that gave aid and comfort to the enemy at times when the fighting was very intense and dangerous to our troops in Iraq. That's part of the reason we have the current leadership that is responsible for this idiotic decision.

As for Holder, I rather imagine you can come up with some adjectives that I am thinking about him as I write this, so I will not destroy the family friendly rating this fine blog has carried for so long.

A.C. McCloud said...

Thanks LA, but I am racking my brain trying to give this crew a break here. I cannot imagine them being so craven as to play politics with this considering the blowback possibilities. Then again, I am amazed on a daily basis anymore.