On Friday's Ed Schultz radio show, NBC chief legal correspondent Dan Abrams came on to discuss the Manhattan trials of 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and four other accused terrorists. He was not optimistic that it would help Obama politically at all:
I think that on sort of the international front, that once the proceedings start, I think it's just going to provide nugget after nugget for these people who want to use propaganda....I don't know that Obama had much of a choice here but to move forward with this. But from a propaganda point of view, and from a political point of view, I think it may be a lose and a lose.
When Schultz asked what the chances were of these terror suspects getting acquitted, Abrams guessed that the chances for KSM were "not very high," but it could happen with the other suspects, which would create political problems. As far as KSM, Abrams said, "I think he's gonna make a mockery of the proceeding...What if Khalid Sheik Mohammed says he wants to represent himself, and as a result, he wants to create a mockery of the proceeding. I see that as a real possibility here."
Schultz asked: "Politically, is this risky territory for Obama?"
ABRAMS: Absolutely. Think about it. This isn't gonna happen, trials aren't gonna happen for many months. there's a 45-day requirement to give Congress an opportunity [to question allowing the suspects into America] -- these guys aren't gonna be setting foot on American soil until middle 2010 at the earliest. What's happening in 2010? We've got some elections happening in November...
SCHULTZ: Why didn't he do it in the summer? Why didn't he do it in the first month he was in office?
ABRAMS: Well, look, I think it was smart in my view to take your time on Guantanamo. I think one of the big mistakes they made was, I think it was a smart political move to say we're gonna close Guantanamo. [But] By saying it's gotta close within a year. I mean, this is complicated stuff. There are really bad bad guys in Guantanamo. and they have to think long and hard about how to deal with these cases. The legal system moves slowly. It just does. Everywhere, not just Guantanamo Bay. So when you start setting timelines, political tiemelins for legal proceedings, you risk getting into trouble.
There was also this exchange, as summarized above:
ABRAMS: I don't see how Obama gets credit.
SCHULTZ: No, I don't think he gets credit, but he takes the critics out of the game.
ABRAMS: I'm not sure he does, on either front, meaning, I think that on sort of the international front, that once the proceedings start, I think it's just going to provide nugget after nugget for these people who want to use propaganda. I'm not saying he shouldn't have done it. I think, look, in the end, I don't know that Obama had much of a choice here but to move forward with this. But from a propaganda point of view, and from a political point of view, I think it may be a lose and a lose.