The Democrats' New "Bush" Standard

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Feb 11, 2010 5:23 PM
Apparently, the Democrats think there is political advantage to be had by accusing Republicans of hypocrisy when it comes to national security -- namely, because Republicans have criticized the decision to try the Christmas bomber in civilian court when, after all, the Bush Administration tried shoe-bomber Richard Reid in civilian court in 2002.

Wait a minute.  First, if the Bush Administration made a mistake trying Reid in civilian court, then there's no reason to repeat that mistake in the Obama Administration.

Second, as our liberal friends will no doubt recall, they were raising doubts about the constitutionality of the Bush military tribunal plan, which ultimately was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2006.  So there were good reasons, efforts at bipartisanship among them, that the Bush administration might have gone ahead in civilian court, rather than pressing ahead with a military tribunal that enraged liberals.  Even more, if Reid had been tried by the then-new military tribunals -- and the tribunals had later been found to be constitutionally insufficient (as they were) -- that would have invalidated Reid's conviction.  One can understand why the Bush administration officials didn't want to take that chance.

Note that the Court didn't find the military tribunals were inherently unconstitutional -- it was just that they needed to be established through federal legislation (or as a result of military necessity), rather than through a military order issued by the president.  Now, of course, there is federal legislation authorizing the use of the tribunals, and all the questions about their legality that existed in 2001-02 have been cleared up.  So there's no reason for Obama not to use them -- and he specifically signed off on a military tribunal plan in March.

Finally -- who are really the hypocrites here?  The same Democrats who spent 7 years assailing Bush as a Nazi are now using his policies and decisions as the "gold standard" in terms of handling terrorism suspects.  How, exactly, does that work?