by Patrick Appel
Marc reported yesterday:
Already, the facts on the ground have forced Obama to change his assumptions about how the detainees will be tried. It had been the hope of administration legal advisers that a majority of the 240 - perhaps a large majority - would be tried in federal courts. Then they discovered that the evidentiary thresholds for doing so were too high given the quality of information the Bush government had collected about the detainees, and they subsequently concluded that Article III trials wouldn't be as swift as an option that they wanted to reserve for only a couple dozen high-value detainees: the military commissions.
But by the time it became clear to the administration that most of the detainees would have to have their day in military court, Republicans had already dug a moat around the Democrats, pressing them to severely limit the President's hand. That's one reason why Harry Reid was eager to get [yesterday's] vote out of the way; it prevents even more damaging amendments from reaching the floor, amendments which might have forced the administration to give up entirely on its goal of closing Guantanamo Bay.