Critics also found Mr. Holder’s guarantee of a predetermined verdict to give all the appearances of a Soviet-style show trial. The howls of protest forced the Obama administration to change course.
Mr. Obama has demonstrated a fondness for decrying the prior administration’s supposed human-rights abuses and publicly released top-secret memos on now-discontinued enhanced interrogation methods. In contrast to these public displays of high-mindedness, the 2009 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize quietly developed and has continued to maintain an assassination hit list of targets, including American citizens, each of which the president has personally approved.
To date, the Obama administration has publicly acknowledged that it has killed four American citizens in drone strikes. Mr. Obama’s policy has directed that our capable intelligence and military resources hunt down those on the list and vaporize them, eliminating the chance to gain any further intelligence.
In Mr. Obama’s world, a secret kill list populated with U.S. citizens is more appropriate than waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, principal architect of Sept. 11 and Gitmo resident, in search of actionable intelligence. Despite obvious concerns about the constitutional implications of the administration’s practices, let alone concerns about collateral injury to bystanders, the usual chorus of critics has fallen mysteriously mute.
Responding to Judicial Watch’s objections to the new Defense Department policy, a spokesman for the U.S. military commission said that department granted automatic access to the five liberal organizations based on their “ability to reach an international audience, their experience with international human rights in criminal trials and their stated mission to advance human rights through advocacy and respect for the law.”
The department provided no explanation of how those criteria would not apply equally to an organization such as Judicial Watch, which happens to include terrorism victims, members of the community and the citizenry at large among those who are entitled to human rights protections.
After all, justice requires balancing the rights of the accused and of the victims, including society. The Gitmo detainees are noncitizen enemy combatants entitled to fewer legal protections than the U.S. citizens they wish to harm. As Justice Robert H. Jackson observed, the Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact.
The latest developments in Gitmo’s complex and fractious history underscore the administration’s efforts to chill dissent and to marginalize conservative voices in the public debate over enemy combatants detained at Gitmo.