Minor Charges For Alleged Hezbollah Agent In Iraq

U.S. Army Spc. Justin Towe scans his area while on a mission with Iraqi army soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division in Al Muradia village, Iraq, March, 13, 2007. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/478415299/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Flickr/US Army</a>

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Last week the Obama administration announced that the Iraqi government would not be handing over Ali Mussa Daqduq—who is accused of masterminding an attack that killed several US servicemembers in Iraq and of being a member of Hezbollah—to the US for trial by a military commission. The attack involved Daqduq and associates allegedly fooling American servicemembers with false uniforms and ID cards, which is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Republicans like Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) accused Obama of “once again completely abdicating its responsibility to hold on to deadly terrorists.” As with the Iraq withdrawal itself, Obama’s Republican critics seem to be operating on the assumption that the US can simply go ahead and violate Iraq’s sovereignty without causing any adverse consequences. 

The fear was that Daqduq would be released by the Iraqi government, but it appears he’ll instead be charged with a minor offense associated with his passport. At Lawfare, Robert Chesney writes that they’re “plenty of blame to go around” for this outcome, but I’d argue that this line in the Associated Press report Chesney links to explains who is really at fault:

Under former President George W. Bush, prosecutors had planned to charge Daqduq in a U.S. criminal court. But those plans were scrapped after President Barack Obama took office and lawmakers began restricting his ability to bring terrorist suspects into the United States for trial.

There’s no guarantee that the Iraqi government would have turned him over if he had been promised a federal trial, but National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told the New York Times that “a transfer to Gitmo was a non-starter for the Iraqi government.” If Daqduq is indeed guilty, the fact that he will not be punished is in part the result of Republicans’ arbitrary politicization of terrorism trials and the Obama administration’s meek acquiescence to them doing so. The consequences to individual rights and liberty here in the United States have been terrible, but the same is true of efforts to hold terrorists responsible for their crimes

*This post has been edited from its original version.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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