The right is again aflutter about the Obama administration’s approach to the war on terror. The occasion this time is the decision by the administration to prosecute an alleged terrorist in federal court. We are told Ahmed Warsame provided material support to bad people, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Amid conservatives’ angry squawking, it is useful to take a step back and reflect on the case and how it fits into our current national debate about justice for alleged enemy combatants.
On October 11, 2000, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore took their seats at a table on the stage of Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for their second presidential debate. The event was billed as a conversation. Jim Lehrer, the polished public TV anchor, was the moderator, and he took the candidates through an eclectic assortment of national issues, from gay marriage to education reform.
WikiLeaks recently released a trove of secret risk assessments regarding nearly every prisoner who has ever been held at Guantánamo Bay. I have been continually involved in Guantánamo litigation longer than any lawyer in the world, having been counsel of record in Rasul v. Bush, the first case that went to the Supreme Court from Guantánamo. Over the years, I have defended a number of prisoners at the base. Yet, in the Kafkaesque way that these things work, I cannot comment on the WikiLeaks material because they remain classified.