Now that it seems the White House will opt for a military tribunal for the 9/11 terorrists, there's some handwringing about the previous, much criticized position that the trial be held in civilian court. A "well-placed Democratic source" complains to the Daily News, "This is Classic 101 Boobery. They all look awful."
In fact, the News drives the nails in the coffin a little deeper: "The decision-making process for bringing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his four accomplices to their near-certain execution has been so ham-handed it joins such political howlers as Jerry Ford's 'Whip Inflation Now' campaign; Jimmy Carter's handling of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis; Bill Clinton's disastrous rollout of HillaryCare, and George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" choreography."
The Obama administration change of heart is all about political calculus. The Wall Street Journal explains:
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been negotiating with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) to win his support for a 9/11 trial before a revamped military commission that would be more open and offer defendants more rights than the Bush administration had wanted, Mr. Graham and administration officials said.
In exchange, the White House hopes Mr. Graham will help win bipartisan support for the purchase of a nearly empty prison in Thomson, Ill., which would be converted to a federal "supermax" facility, with a military court administered by the Defense Department.
Cutting a deal with Mr. Graham not only would move a distracting political issue aside but could pay dividends down the road. Mr. Graham is involved in bipartisan negotiations on climate change and immigration as well.
While the White House says the decision on where Mohammed et al. will be tried is still weeks in the making, Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) is optimistic about a military tribunal, "The President is now confronting reality, and he's finding out that the campaign trail is different from the reality of the war against terror."