Alex Massie sighs:
The whole affair reeks. It's the kind of stupid thing one would expect from a shabby, clapped-out regime unable to appreciate either justice or public relations. The United States doesn't like to think of itself in those terms but this decision, politically prudent and realistic as it may be, marks another moment when the rhetoric of American exceptionalism is revealed as just so much baloney.
Dahlia Lithwick is equally unforgiving:
The only lesson learned is that Obama's hand can be forced. That there is no principle he can't be bullied into abandoning. In the future, when seeking to pass laws that treat different people differently for purely political reasons, Congress need only fear-monger and fabricate to get the president to cave. Nobody claims that this was a legal decision. It was a political triumph or loss, depending on your viewpoint. The rule of law is an afterthought, either way.
But it's fair to say that because of insane hysteria, whipped up by Republicans, Obama had little choice. He has been barred from closing Gitmo by the Congress and couldn't overcome the panic of people like Mayor Bloomberg to find a place for a civilian trial. But I agree this is another sad concession to the politics of fear; and yet another rebuke to the politics of hope.