Bush To Announce Detainees Will Get Trials genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Detainees

After years of debate and legal wrangling, the President, according to ABC News, will announce that high value detainees held in secret prisons will be turned over to the Department of Defense to be handled consistent with the procedures provided in the Geneva Conventions.

Despite the announcement, it remains unclear as to the exact procedures that will be applied to these individuals given the ongoing dialogue within Congress as to the specific policies following on the heels of the recent Supreme Court ruling. Nonetheless, it appears to be a move in the right direction. Fox News provides some preliminary information on the President's announcement.

In his third speech dealing with the War on Terror, to be delivered at the White House before an audience of 9/11 families and first responders, the president will unveil a proposal to legally try the more than 400 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that military tribunals were never authorized by Congress and would violate U.S. and international law. Since the ruling, administration officials have been working on a new proposal to try terrorism suspects.

Bush’s proposal faces opposition from members of Congress, including Republicans, over objections to whether prosecutors could use sensitive evidence that defendants wouldn’t be allowed to see. Some Republicans say it’s a violation of the due process clause in the U.S. Constitution and could encourage other countries to use the same procedure against captured U.S. military personnel.

Some military lawyers back a system similar to the current system of military courts martial. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has objected to rules that would give terror suspects the right to remain silent or challenge hearsay evidence.

CNN is also reporting that the President will announce the names of some high profile detainees (held at secret prisons) who will be brought to trial. I hate to be a cynic and a skeptic but the timing of this announcement seems suspicious to me. The fact that these "high profile" names will be released...and that one might presume that these individuals will be paraded in the media for all to see...almost immediately after the President and the GOP have just rolled out their campaign strategy for the November midterm election seems all too convenient. Granted, it may well be coincidental but I'm not convinced. Nothing would serve the President better than having Americans see the tangible results of our effort to fight the war on terror.

I've previously written that this administration has a predisposition to act first (in ways they see fit regardless of the actual legal consequences), then oppose those who object to their procedures only to eventually acknowledge (after a court or other authority has ruled) that they didn't act properly, and then to finally co-opt the outcome and use it to advantage.

They did so with the domestic surveillance issue (NSA) and they are now doing it with the detainee issue. While there is nothing inherently wrong with making political decisions and calculations, it is frustrating to see the pattern of renegade behavior and the unwillingness of Congress to fulfill their role in providing oversight of the executive branch in order to maintain the balance of power inherent in our governmental design.

UPDATE:

I found it a bit odd that the President received a standing ovation when he announced the names of detainees that had been transferred to Guantanamo for prosecution. Isn't he the same person that has been preventing this type of prosecution? It seems to me that saying "It's about time" would be the more appropriate response to this announcement. The only thing we've gained from the delay of this outcome is the ire of much of the world and a loss of the moral authority that 9/11 most certainly provided.

Daniel DiRito | September 6, 2006 | 10:50 AM
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