Diary

So Mr. Obama, How Many Civilian Terror Trials Did Bush Have?

So how many is it?

Terrorists I mean. Those who were tried and convicted in civil courts under the Bush Administration and are currently serving time in federal prisons?

It’s an important question, first and foremost because President Obama and Attorney General Holder insist that this process happened hundreds of times already under the Bush Administration. Specifically more than 300 times. Or More than 190 times. Or just 190 times.

All these instances, however many their were, are becoming the latest go to justification by Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder for civilian court criminal trials of “alleged” underpants bomber, Abdul Mutallab, and “alleged” 9/11 architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed (a.k.a. KSM – which sounds like an abbreviation for a fast food chain or the name of half a hip-hop act, or both).

Oh, despite the early distancing by White House spokespeople that these have been “The Attorney General’s decisions,” Mr. Obama must now be included as now firmly wanting civilian trials for terrorists since he is now “personally involved” with selecting the KSM site (quick site suggestion: Hyde Park, Chicago; after all, it where the President’s other house is, so what better message to send if he really believes in civilian trials then to have one in his own backyard?).

But locations aside, let’s get back to justifications and this new rationalization being championed by the Obama administration: “Hey, Bush did it.”

Think of the genius in this approach. The whole “blaming Bush for everything” was getting stale, especially in the wake of the Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Tea Party tsunamis. So the Obama Administration responded by hitching its bruised bandwagon to embracing George W. Bush for his achievements. And not just when they want to have civilian trials of terror suspects, either. Last week, Vice President Biden went as far as calling Iraq one of this Administration’s [i.e. The Obama Administration] greatest triumphs. There’s a special kind of brilliance in that strategy. How is that playing with the base, by the way?

But back to the justification itself. Mr. Obama, Mr. Holder, and others from the current administration have been citing numbers to back up their court aspirations. At first it was 300. Specifically, in a five-page letter sent to Senator Mitch McConnel late last year, Attorney General Holder said “the Bush Administration prosecuted more than 300 people on terrorism-related charges in federal courts.”

But then in late January, David Axelrod said on “Meet The Press” that “The Bush Administration tried 190 or more terrorists in that system.”

A week later, President Obama got more precise on CBS, saying the Bush Administration had  “prosecuted 190 folks…Got convictions. And those folks are in maximum security prisons right now.”

So “more than 300,” “190 or more” or “190 folks” (“folks!” – hey, they could be your friends and neighbors for gosh sakes; or those folks at the county fair).

Now, these numbers aren’t the typical, open to debate and projections, what will do me better in the polls numbers that politicians like to kick around – you know, like deficit trillions, stimulus billions or earmark hundred millions. These numbers refer to a specific individuals who were tried, convicted and are now doing federal time on our tax dollars. There are names associated with each one – and new numbers that they ostensibly wear in Leavenworth and other similar garden spots.

In fact, if there weren’t actual names referring to actual persons attached to numbers being bandied about with such importance and these were just, like, numbers being thrown out there simply to create sanctimonious justification it would a gross miscarriage of the public trust and demagoguery of the highest order of which we’ve only seen once before in this country. That involved some guy named Joe McCarthy.

So because these numbers are currently being cited by President Obama and Attorney General Holder as the primary precedent to for the civilian court option, there are some quick and simple questions that we should all be hearing until we get some solid answers:

– Which is it: more than 300, 190 or more or 190?

– Why is it there were 300ish/190ish/190 terrorist trials in civilian courts during the last decade and we didn’t hear anything about them?

– Where were these 190 to 300 trials held?

– Who was tried and what were they convicted of?

– Oh, and are there any jurors, prosecutors, or defense attorneys from any of these trials who would want to talk about their experiences? How about accused terror suspects who where not convicted?

Now you’d think that the news media would’ve been all over this during the last six to eight years. Trials on American soil for alleged acts of terror against this country that were successfully prosecuted and ultimately landed them in federal maximum security prisons!? You’d think that, at best, that kind of stuff would generate web traffic, newsprint and ratings gold, and at worst produce some better programming for MSNBC and Court TV.

At the very least you’d think that we would’ve heard all about this if it happened.

You’d think that, since we didn’t, reporters from all the major news organizations would be all over this issue.

You’d think they’d be asking the questions above, and a whole lot more that are smarter and more informed and reporter like.

Or are these questions and coverage just like the numbers of these terrorist “folks” being thrown around by the Obama Administration – just something they hope will pass by in the din and you won’t think about.