Dr. Steve Frank
April 7, 2011
The prosecution of Guantanamo detainees has made strange bedfellows of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. And there is reason to view this week’s decision by the Obama administration to try five accused 9/11 conspirators before a military commission, and not in a civilian court as once planned, as confirmation that President Bush had it right all along.
But we don’t live in a black-and-white world. And if you look at the decision through the lens of the Constitution, you come to two grayer but truer conclusions: The Constitution can help us find the right answers to difficult questions, but seldom affords quick solutions. And while this week’s announcement spotlights executive and congressional power, it’s the role that the courts have played all along that has helped strike whatever balance we have now achieved.
Civil liberties and human rights groups this week voiced dismay, and conservative Republicans vindication, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks would be tried before a military commission at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.