Response to a Comment About Al-Marri:
I've received a number of interesting comments in response to my Al-Marri posts. (Thanks for all the comments, by the way; I think this has been a very useful and rewarding discussion.) One of the more common arguments is one I find puzzling, however. An anoonymouscommenter put the argument this way:
The reason OK's position is so frustrating is that he is not a hack but someone who is usually very intelligent, sensitive and fair. And the point is not that criticism of Al-Marri is somehow inappropriate but rather that OK has criticized it in a maddening fashion and glossed over the fact that his approach, if adopted by the courts, would allow the administration to continue horrific practices. The reasonable and just inference from the fact that this administration has used its broad claims of "executive authority" to horrifically and pointlessly violate the basic human rights of detainees, including detainees who have nothing to do with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, is that there is something drastically wrong with that framework. Yet OK ignores this reality entirely, choosing instead to . . . . offer intellectual support to the legitimacy of that framework.
  Here are two responses (in addition to appreciation for the compliment in the 1st sentence — thanks for that).

  First, there are hundreds of different issues raised by the legal side of the war on terror. I think the Bush Administration is right on some of them; wrong on others; and I just don't know enough about many of them to have an informed opinion. Given that, my brain only works by taking these questions issue-by-issue. I can understand why this seems frustrating if you don't view them issue-by-issue, and instead have a more global reaction (whether for or against). But for whatever reason, that's how I approach it.

  Second, even if you agree with the comenter's view of the Bush Administration, it's not like the Bush Administration will be around forever. It's going to take anywhere from 6 months to 18 months before we have a final decision on the Al-Marri case, depending on whether the 4th Circuit goes en banc and whether the Supreme Court hears the case. Given that there are only 18 months left of the Bush presidency, the resolution of Al-Marri will come either at the tail end of the Bush Administration or the beginning of the Obama/Thompson/Clinton/McCain/Giuliani/Edwards (OTCMGE) Adminitration.

  I don't know what positions President OTCMGE is going to take on legal policies surrounding terrorism. But I suspect the new President will probably want to make a bunch of changes, and it seems to me that the question of what to do with cases like Al-Marri is really about the options for President OTCMGE more than the options for President Bush.