Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered actual trials for five 9/11 suspects rather than military tribunals. The decision places the United States squarely back on the road of the rule of law in giving due process even to our most hated defendants. The five defendants include 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The other four are Waleed bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi and Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali. However, this courageous act was diminished by an inexplicable decision of Holder to order five other defendants — including USS Cole suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri — be tried in a military tribunal. I discussed this decision on this segment of MSNBC Countdown.
Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn condemned the move as putting “political ideology ahead of the safety of the American people just to fulfill an ill-conceived campaign promise.” I am not sure what ideology means but I assume it is a reference to the Constitution. What makes us safer is to offer the world an alternative to these men; to show that we are not the hypocrites that we appeared during the Bush Administration.
The decision to send some detainees to military tribunals, however, is a baffling contradiction. Holder has denied the Administration the high ground in the debate by trying to appease both sides and deny due process to some of these accused individuals. It is a case of snatching hypocrisy out of the jaws of principle.
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