Immediately after the terror attack in New York City, Trump predictably flapped his jaws about how he might send the suspect to Guantanamo Bay for a military trial instead of a civilian one. Leaving aside the fact that doing so would be illegal, one of his aides apparently told him why that would be a bad idea because he backed away from it.
In response to questions from reporters, Mr. Trump on Wednesday had said he would be open to transferring Sayfullo Saipov, the immigrant from Uzbekistan charged with plowing a pickup truck into passers-by in Manhattan and killing eight people, from the civilian justice system to the military system at Guantánamo.
But after his offhand remark, aides sought to walk back the idea, saying it was merely notional. And the president was evidently briefed or saw something on television afterward about how the civilian courts have been more effective at convicting terrorism suspects than the troubled military tribunal system installed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
I wonder if someone said that on Fox and Friends, which seems to be Trump’s primary source of information. The timing was perfect, though, because the military court system at Gitmo has turned into a major league shit show over the last few days after a judge threw the brigadier general in charge of the defense counsels for the accused in jail for 21 days. It’s a huge mess.
These are only the latest defense attorneys, most of them highly decorated military officers, who have quit. It started a decade ago with Col. Morris Davis and several others have resigned their commissions in protest of what is happening down there, with the use of evidence obtained by torture and many other blatantly illegal elements to the proceedings. But pseudo-macho guys like Trump think they’re just great. He thinks the military does a better job than civilian courts at dealing with terrorists, but they don’t. Civilian courts have convicted and sentenced hundreds of terror suspects while respecting due process and the rule of law. The military tribunals have been an unmitigated disaster.