If you fellow this link to some Google results you’ll find quit a few fringe conservative sites condemning Attorney general Eric Holder for OMG prosecuting terrorists in U.S. Both from the tone and substance you’d think Holder was going to throw a basket of puppies into a river. The links are accurate in that they give a good general picture that are steering the course of conservatism and have done so for the last fifty years. Yet just as the otherwise rational Sir Artur Conan Doyle believed in fairies, occasionally ( and I would not hold my breath between intervals) a conservative or two will actually have a rational view of an issue. A Conservative Pennsylvania Judge John E. Jones in a ruling on teaching Evolution in public schools found intelligent design “thinly veiled creationism” that is “breathtaking in its inanity.” Conservative Jim Comey who was a deputy attorney general and U.S. attorney in Manhattan during the Bush administration and Conservative Jack Goldsmith who work’s on the uber right Hoover Institutes Task Force on National Security and Law co-authored this column in the WaPo, Holder’s reasonable decision
In deciding to use federal court, the attorney general probably considered the record of the military commission system that was established in November 2001. This system secured three convictions in eight years. The only person who had a full commission trial, Osama bin Laden’s driver, received five additional months in prison, resulting in a sentence that was shorter than he probably would have received from a federal judge.
One reason commissions have not worked well is that changes in constitutional, international and military laws since they were last used, during World War II, have produced great uncertainty about the commissions’ validity. This uncertainty has led to many legal challenges that will continue indefinitely — hardly an ideal situation for the trial of the century.
By contrast, there is no question about the legitimacy of U.S. federal courts to incapacitate terrorists. Many of Holder’s critics appear to have forgotten that the Bush administration used civilian courts to put away dozens of terrorists, including “shoe bomber” Richard Reid; al-Qaeda agent Jose Padilla; “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh; the Lackawanna Six; and Zacarias Moussaoui, who was prosecuted for the same conspiracy for which Mohammed is likely to be charged. Many of these terrorists are locked in a supermax prison in Colorado, never to be seen again. (emphasis mine)
Legal opinions yes, but the efficient and successive prosecution of multiple terrorists is our courts is a fact. We cannot read minds, but the rabid right bloggers at the links above pretend to by capturing a moment in which Lindsay Graham ( a lawyer, but no expert on terror prosecutions) supposedly embarrasses Attorney General Holder, when in typical feigned conservative incredulity Graham is shocked that any terrorist might be read their Miranda rights ( Ironically Graham uses Osama Bin Laden as his example – still free after eight years of Bush’s “war on terror”.) You know the same Miranda rights read to the 145 terrorists that have been convicted in civilian courts. As long as we’re indulging in the fine art of mind reading, what I see is Lindsay Graham passing off ignorant outrage as knowledge. Then A.G. Holder at a loss for words that an experienced lawyer and U.S. senator would put on a little drama queen show that exposed the Senator’s childish fears, contempt for justice and America’s traditional values. That said I would agree with Glenn Greenwald, up to a point, that the DOJ is undermining its own argument about civilian trials for some detainees when it advocates military commissions for others. Glenn suspects the DOJ is choosing what route it takes depending on where they are likely to get the desired results. Maybe some of us are too hung up on principles and consistency, but as both the conservatives writing at WaPo and Glenn notes civilian trials have an established history of putting terrorists in prison where they belong. More here, David Frakt on Material Support Charges and Military Commissions