The NYT reports:
The Obama administration is moving toward reviving the military commission system for prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, which was a target of critics during the Bush administration, including Mr. Obama himself.
Officials said the first public moves could come as soon as next week, perhaps in filings to military judges at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, outlining an administration plan to amend the Bush administration’s system to provide more legal protections for terrorism suspects. . .
Senior officials have emphasized that they prefer to prosecute terrorism suspects in existing American courts. When President Obama suspended Guantánamo cases after his inauguration on Jan. 20, many participants said the military commission system appeared dead.
But in recent days a variety of officials involved in the deliberations say that after administration lawyers examined many of the cases, the mood shifted toward using military commissions to prosecute some detainees, perhaps including those charged with coordinating the Sept. 11 attacks.
“The more they look at it,” said one official, “the more commissions don’t look as bad as they did on Jan. 20.”
Barack Obama’s principled opposition to military commissions was just empty pandering? Who could have predicted it?
UPDATE: A good summary from Darren Hutchinson:
- Obama and members of his administration have embraced the use of rendition. Many of Obama’s most ardent defenders blasted progressives who criticized Obama on rendition as jumping the gun. Today, their arguments look even more problematic than in the past.
- Obama has invoked the maligned “state secrets” defense as a complete bar to lawsuits challenging potential human rights and constitutional law violations.
- Obama has argued that detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan do not qualify for habeas corpus rights, even though many of the detainees at the facility were not captured in the war or in Afghanistan.
- Even though it no longer uses the phrase “enemy combatants,” the Obama administration has taken the position that the government can indefinitely detain individuals, whether or not they engaged in torture and whether or not they fought the United States on the “battlefield.” This logic combined with the denial of habeas to detainees in Afghanistan could make Bagram the functional equivalent of Guantanamo Bay.
If the New York Times article is accurate, then the use of military tribunals issue will join the list of policies that Obama has endorsed, despite the loud liberal criticism that Bush received when he did the same things.