“Resolved, That General Washington shall be, and he is hereby vested with full, ample, and complete powers to . . . arrest and confine persons . . . who are disaffected to the American cause.”
– Resolution of the Continental Congress, 1776
In a dramatic about face, the Obama Administration has announced that September 11th mastermind Khalid
Sheik Mohammed will be brought before a military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Captured in Pakistan in 2003, Mohammed was the “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks” according to the 9/11 Commission. When the Obama Administration sought to try Mohammed and his four accomplices in a civilian court in Manhattan, the President faced a bipartisan barrage of criticism. Americans were infuriated by this original plan to bring Mohammed back to the scene of his heinous crime, where he would enjoy the privileges and protections of an American citizen. And so, in a reversal, the Administration has changed course.
As discussed, George Washington set a precedent for utilizing military commissions against our nation’s enemies. Military commissions were historically held according to the Commander’s discretion and did not necessarily provide any protections whatsoever. The procedures of the proceeding were largely left to the whims of the Commander. Unlike civilian trials, these war courts provided the defendant with few – if any – protections and typically ended with a prompt hanging.
While Washington typically referred enemies of the nation to other trials held under rules passed by Congress, he utilized commissions to dole out punishment when need be. And with yesterday’s announcement, President Obama appears to be following suit.
The families of the September 11th victims have been waiting for nearly a decade for justice. When do you think they will receive it?