Well, not really.

But the administration is backing off the proposal to try certain foreign terrorists in the regular court system. The reversal is for terrorists who declared war on the US, then plotted and directed the worst attack on US soil from abroad .

The Washington Post reports:

President Obama’s advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

The president’s advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. While Obama has favored trying some terrorism suspects in civilian courts as a symbol of U.S. commitment to the rule of law, critics have said military tribunals are the appropriate venue for those accused of attacking the United States.


The argument that the mastermind of 9/11 should be tried in civilian court never made sense to me, or evidently to a lot of people, including Democrats.

That being said, there is a good argument that can be made for de-emphasizing the lesser terrorist attempts like the Christmas day underwear bomber. Why would the underwear bomber be different? Because highlighting these lesser attempts and treating them like they are Khalid Sheik Mohammed elevates their status among their compatriots, providing the fame and reputation that young strident “true believers” often seek. If we provide non-stop news coverage, a Presidential address, and the US military swooping in every time some punk shoots up a shopping mall, you can expect more “true believers” to be attracted to going out in a blaze of glory. I am not convinced that the existence of military tribunals or even Gitmo are “recruiting tools” for these folks, but the psychological benefits of having the leader of the free world appear on TV and utter your name just might be.

Military tribunals have passed constitutional muster, and are just as valid as civilian courts. What we need now is a bi-partisan, national policy regarding what conditions merit their use.

Cross posted to FrankHagan.com

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