The Washington Post had a bombshell story this morning reporting that President Obama’s top aides were poised to recommend that Khalid Sheik Mohammed be tried in a military tribunal rather than a civilian court. That would represent a huge reversal for the administration, and also a tacit acknowledgment that the Bush-Cheney era anti-terror measures that Obama agressively campaigned against during the campaign were (at least in some cases) pragmatic answers to complex problems.
To be sure, we don’t yet know what Obama will ultimately decide, but if he were to go by the recommendations, it would confirm what some commentators were arguing during the campaign — that Obama is primarily focused on his domestic issues and thus much more willing to fold on national security and foreign policy matters.
When health care was on life support in Congress in the wake of Scott Brown’s victory, Obama decided not to back down. Instead, he dug in his heels on getting a comprehensive bill, has shown a willingness to use an aggressive reconciliation strategy to ram through legislation that is overwhelmingly oppsed by the American public, and is in the process of twisting arms in Congress to get what he wants. Yet in the face of mounting opposition in Congress to trying KSM in a civilian court, Obama isn’t taking the same approach. To Obama, the liberal dream of national health care is worth the political risks, but he seems much more willing to cave when it comes to national security matters that aren’t as dear to his heart.
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