We have previously noted the problem with President Barack Obama assuring the public that people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) will be convicted. After the previous such incidents (here), many of us noted that a president is expected to avoid such comments which are inimical to a fair trial and sitting an unbiased jury. Now, in the video below, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs has decided to pick up the role as the Red Queen to promise not just a conviction but execution for KSM.
In an interview on CNN, Gibbs stated that “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he’s going to meet his maker… He will be brought to justice and he’s likely to be executed for the heinous crimes he committed.”
Such statements are rapidly eroding whatever high ground the Obama Administration secured in assuring a fair trial in civilian courts for KSM and the other defendants. The Obama Administration has lost much of that high ground by engaging open dialogue with politicians on where and whether these defendants will be tried in civilian courts. Now, they assure the public that no matter where they are tried, they will be convicted. It makes our legal system appear improvisational and hypocritical.
To make matters worse, Gibbs seemed to have to be forced to confirm that the Obama Administration would fulfill its pledge to try the men in civilian court — again suggesting a fluidity in their position. The test of principle is that you follow principle when it is neither convenient nor popular. It is hardly strange that Senators and House members would fail to see the need to fulfill such principles when they are unpopular. A president, however, has an obligation to preserve our values and our Constitution. This “sentence first verdict later” approach to justice is confirming what our enemies are saying about us. Al Qaeda loves this debate. It shows American leaders unwilling to guarantee a fair trial with full rights for those people they hate or fear. Now, you have a spokesman assuring the result of a trial that has not even begun.