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August 27, 2010

Obama administration shelves prosecution of alleged USS Cole bomber

Obama's campaign to make the Democratic brand as toxic as possible before November rolls on.

The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged coordinator of the Oct. 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to a court filing.

The decision at least temporarily scuttles what was supposed to be the signature trial of a major al-Qaeda figure under a reformed system of military commissions. And it comes practically on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attack, which killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.

In a filing this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department said that "no charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future."

As the story points out later, the order to stop referring terrorism cases for trial - given shortly after the inauguration - has not been rescinded. During the campaign, Obama repeatedly criticized the Bush administration for failing to bring those held at Guantanamo to trial:
First, let me say a few words about Guantanamo. By any measure, our system of trying detainees has been an enormous failure. Over the course of nearly seven years, there has not been a single conviction for a terrorist act at Guantanamo. There has been just one conviction for material support for terrorism. Meanwhile, this legal black hole has substantially set back America's ability to lead the world against the threat of terrorism, and undermined our most basic values. Make no mistake: we are less safe because of the way George Bush has handled this.
So his answer to the Bush administration's "failure," it seems, is to double down on it.

During the campaign, Obama repeatedly insinuated that the Bush administration's approach to terrorism suspects was a violation of this country's values and stated time and again that he trusted the courts to bring terrorism suspects to justice. The unspoken message was clear: George W. Bush's approach to terror suspects proved that he didn't care about American values. Obama promised Americans that his administration would deal with terrorists in a way that he said would be more consistent with our nation's values. So far, his administration's approach has been to ignore the issue entirely.

Seventeen American sailors were killed in the attack on the USS Cole. The government has evidence linking Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri to that attack and are ready to charge him. Obama's justice department stopped the process.

What does that say about Obama's values?

Update - A good catch by "the captain's log" in the comments. New York Times, February 6, 2009:

President Obama on Friday assured family members of Americans who were killed in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and in the Sept. 11 attacks that the terror suspects will be prosecuted and brought to a swift and certain justice.
There really aren't any words, other than to note that all of Obama's promises have an expiration date.

Even those he makes to grieving families, apparently.


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posted by Slublog at 11:03 AM

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