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Guest Post By Adam Serwer: Marc Thiessen’s Weak Sauce

TAPPED is on vacation, but Adam Serwer’s ire knows no rest. Who’s Marc Thiessen, though? The only Thiessen I know is Tiffani-Amber. Read on…

Republicans have been hitting the Obama administration hard over the decision to try alleged underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab in civilian court. The only problem is that the Bush administration tried shoe-bomber Richard Reid in civilian court, and the GOP had no problem with it.

Marc Thiessen is a former Bush speechwriter who has authored some pretty odious excuses for the Bush administrations’ lawlessness, most prominently the notion that suspected terrorists need to be tortured for religious reasons. Today he takes a stab at reconciling the GOP’s obvious doublespeak:

Simple answer: The Richard Reid attack came almost immediately after 9/11, long before we figured out that we had other options than handing him over to law enforcement. After that came Jose Padilla, who was arrested at the Chicago airport on a mission from KSM to blow up apartment buildings in the United States. He was taken out of the criminal-justice system, declared an illegal enemy combatant, and transferred to the Charleston brig for interrogation.

Let’s review: Padilla was taken in June 2002 on suspicion of being part of a terrorist plot and held in a military brig where he was tortured to the point where two psychologists described him having “severe mental disabilities”. After being held in the Charleston brig for more than three years, the Bush administration, in a desperate attempt to avoid a Habeas challenge, charged him in federal criminal court, and he was finally convicted in a civilian court anyway in August of 2007, five years after he was initially arrested.

This is the well-oiled, efficient legal process Thiessen would like the Obama administration to follow. And just so we’re clear, Bush’ military commissions tried a grand total of three cases while the civilian courts tried more than a hundred during that time, and so far the new ones aren’t looking much better.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman