Columbia University Associate Professor Marc Lamont Hill did his usual babbling act on “The O’Reilly Factor” last night. This time, the issue was putting the Christmas Day underwear bomber and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on trial in civil court rather than before a military tribunal.
This expert in hip-hop music might have been able to help select the rap music to blast in the ears of terrorist detainees while they were being interrogated at Guantanamo – an option no longer available under Obama’s detainee-friendly policies. But who cares what Hill thinks about anything else?
Apparently, O’Reilly does. However, O’Reilly was only using Hill as a foil. His real beef in this case was with Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism advisor John Brennan, who claimed that those who criticize the Obama administration’s handling of terrorist suspects are only serving Al-Qaeda. This is the same John Brennan, by the way, who let his deputy take a ski vacation right after the Christmas Day bombing attempt and who told us last year:
The President does not describe this as a ‘war on terrorism’…
Brennan also criticized using the term ‘jihad‘ in connection with radical Islamic acts of terror even though the Islamists use that term themselves to describe what they are doing.
Brennan won’t come on The Factor. Neither will Attorney General Eric Holder, the architect of the terrorist constitutional rights campaign. But using a clown with no credibility like Hill as a stand-in does nothing to advance the discussion. Invite someone of stature to debate the issue like Colin Powell.
O’Reilly made the legitimate point that al Qaeda terrorists aiming to kill innocent civilians are violating the laws of war, which means that properly constituted military tribunals are the appropriate trial forum. Obama, in signing the Defense Authorization bill last year, agreed to retain the military commissions with certain reforms. So Bill’s common sense question was why not use them.
Brennan wrote in a USA Today op-ed piece that even the Bush Administration chose civil trials over military trials in most cases and were successful. He pointed to the shoe bomber trial as an example. The problem with Brennan’s reasoning is that military trials were suspended for years, while left-wing challenges to their constitutionality (including with Holder’s assistance when he was in private practice) slowly wended their way through the courts. The Supreme Court ultimately decided not to invalidate military trials per se for alien enemy combatant detainees so long as they comport with certain due process requirements.
This issue deserves serious debate by intelligent experts. Save Marc Lamont Hill for a comedy segment.