A decision to reverse course on Mohammed is likely to dismay civil liberties groups and human rights groups who loudly cheered Obama's election because they thought he would dismantle military tribunals developed during the Bush administration.Since Obama had already announced he was trying the Cole bombers and others in commissions and had previously backed the commission legislation while in the Senate it's a mystery as to where the ACLU has been the past few years. Apparently some liberals simply had fantasy allusions as to what an Obama presidency was going to mean.
"If President Obama reverses Holder's decision to try the 9/11 defendants in criminal court and retreats to using the Bush military commissions, he deals a death blow to his own Justice Department, breaks a clear campaign promise to restore the rule of law and demonstrates that the promises to his constituents are all up for grabs," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The military commissions have not worked, they are doomed to failure, and Obama will invariably find himself running for office again while not achieving justice for the 9/11 attacks."
Politically speaking, the announcement may be designed to soften conservative and moderate anger over health care, since it's not clear the story had to be dumped now and Obama is saying he wants a health care bill in the next two weeks. He knows the liberals have nowhere else to go, so why not appeal to moderate and hawks while health care still stands a chance? Maybe that's why the story wasn't dumped on a Friday afternoon.
Interesting the WaPo mentions a deal to get the Illinois prison open if KSM is kept out of Manhattan. That sort of goes along with an initial feeling that the whole thing was designed as a threat against the GOP ahead of the 2010 mid-terms, ie, we'll bring Bush, torture back into the news constantly. Perhaps they've realized the expiration date is passing on blaming Bush for everything since the Stimulus was all Obama's failure. Or maybe they realized that terrorism is actually real (Hasan, Abdulmuttalob) and not some Cheney pipe dream, and that another attack could blow back in their face. Maybe. Or maybe they'll change their minds after health care is settled. They are democrats.
Whatever the case the place was going to stay open anyway whether KSM's trial was in New York or Gitmo, since without another holding facility they cannot have the scheduled commissions or hold the legal zombie detainees (cannot be tried, cannot be released). Perhaps with KSM still there the failure to close it won't seem as idiotic. Besides, they may be able to blame it on the conservatives who blocked the federal court option. And they'll still get some desired press when the commission finally comes. And boy, if he's freed during a commission due to 'torture tainted' evidence the whole thing goes on Bush.