Saturday, November 14, 2009

Are We At War or Aren't We?

By banning any talk of a "War on Terror" and bringing through a civilian criminal trial for the mastermind of 9/11, Obama and his fellow liberals are doing their best to whitewash Al Queda as nothing more than common criminals. This refusal to accept that Al Queda has made war on America, rather than carried out a few lone attacks which we should all get over with, has been at the heart of the Clinton Administration's misguided approach to terrorism, as well as the ongoing liberal furor over Bush treating Al Queda as an enemy, rather than a bunch of hoodlums who need to be put on the usual legal treadmill to nowhere.

There is little doubt that despite the forthcoming antics from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's lawyers and the usual circus that takes place when terrorists and their lawyers get to put on a show, Mohammed will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars. At least unless he ends up being traded for a few American hostages, which considering that Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom all freed major terrorists in exchange for hostages or financial incentives is not outside the realm of possibility. The difference is in how we define what is happening in the world around us. The question is, are we at war or aren't we?

After WW2 the decision was made by the allies to try key Nazi officials in a military setting. They were not routed into civilian criminal courts. They were not sent to New York Federal court to await trial. Similarly the German saboteurs brought here on a submarine were rapidly routed to a military tribunal and executed in short order. The only real difference between Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and top Nazi officials is time. Had Al Queda been able to take over Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Iraq, would we have been able to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a military tribunal then?

The absurdity of the whole thing is obvious, as liberals propose to take Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a man who is not an American citizen or resident alien and route him into a US criminal court system for attacks that both he and the US government at the time considered acts of war.

In his speech to congress at the time, Bush identified the attacks of September 11th, as an act of war, saying, "On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country". Obama has retroactively withdrawn that recognition of the attacks as an Act of War, itself an unprecedented act, as if JFK had suddenly decided that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was no longer an act of war.

However trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian criminal court based on evidence extracted by military interrogators through waterboarding that is not itself admissible in a civilian court, is a further absurdity. The attempt to funnel Al Queda and Taliban terrorists into civilian courts creates a legal Frankenstein's monster that does not hold together. But the proponents of moving terrorists into civilian courts don't care if it holds together or not, because they don't care whether the terrorists are convicted or not, or whether those convictions can be thrown out by some of Obama's Federal Judges and Supreme Court appointees in a few years from now.

Let us look at what routing terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed through the civilian court system, rather than military tribunals really accomplishes. First of all it virtually nullifies their intelligence value. When a captured terrorist can stop talking to you just by asking for his lawyer, as is the legal right of any defendant in a criminal court system, the only possible leverage for getting any intelligence is a plea bargain deal. And even if we find any Al Queda terrorists willing to accept a plea bargain deal, we would essentially be faced with letting terrorists who have killed Americans walk, in exchange for intelligence. This is obviously a much less reliable and much more morally outrageous process for anyone who cares more about American lives, than those of Islamic terrorists.

Furthermore moving the terrorists onto American soil, gives their comrades targets in America itself. Part of the reason for the original World Trade Center attacks was to force the release of other Muslim terrorists in New York jails. Keeping Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a major American city, turns it into even more of a terrorist magnet than before. If that city is New York, Obama and his liberal backers have given terrorists yet another reason to target New York City.

And if any of those terrorists are freed on some technicality, they will once again become an American responsibility leading to the possibility of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed moving in within blocks of the new site of the World Trade Center. The outrageousness of that is self-evident. The best case scenario would be that the planner behind the mass murder of thousands of Americans would have to be palmed off on some tropical nation at the cost of a few million dollars.

Nor do the crimes of terrorists or the threat they pose to Americans cease once they are behind bars. Just ask Louis Pepe, a guard at the same prison where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is headed today. Pepe was stabbed in the eye by one of Osama bin Laden's top aides, beaten and nearly raped. That was almost 10 years ago when there were only a handful of Al Queda terrorists in US prisons. Bringing in a larger critical mass of terrorists will only increase the risk.

A civilian trial will also allow both the terrorists themselves and their lawyers, many of whom like Lynne Stewart are clearly sympathetic to the Jihadist ideology of their clients, to turn an American courtroom within a few blocks of the site of the attacks into a forum for the promotion of their ideology, for condemnations of America and justification of those attacks themselves. This is exactly what took place during the trials of the 1998 US Embassy bombing Al Queda terrorists. And history is all but certain to repeat itself again.

Finally giving up on military tribunals is a sign of weakness, a demonstration that the United States no longer believes it's at war and is willing to roll out the red carpet of civil rights and criminal defense attorneys for its worst enemies. And there is no better incentive for terrorists to seize on that weakness both at home and abroad. By forgetting that we are at war, we make it all too obvious to our enemies that we are blind to their plans and that we do not take them seriously. And that brings the next 9/11 that much closer to home.


Lemon said...

Things have gone pretty far down lately.

rexrs said...

The situation becomes more hideous by the hour. The increasing speed of decline is an issue by itself.

Every sci/fi alien-invasion movie follows this same script.


averagemelon said...

I so enjoy your fine writing and clear perspective on this site, Sultan. You are always dead on.

parrhesia said...

Holder & Co. will be forced to:
a) defend waterboarding as non-torture in order to have incriminating evidence admitted, or
b) to deny that waterboarding (torture) was used

In either case, the evidence outside of KSM's confession is unlikely to prove convincing of his guilt.

In addition to all this, KSM was not Mirandized. If the judge admits the confession evidence, then the trial will be fatally flawed, opening the real possibility of appeal.

If he (KSM) and the others walk, Obama is finished. But, then again, an Alinsky and Frank Marshall protegee is an absolutist. I think this ill-conceived trial is the best thing to happen to The One. Let Justice prevail.

Anonymous said...

I believe we are at war but believe it or not, I actually heard some Dem. Senator state a reason for trying him in civilian court that I uncannily can agree with.

He wants to be considered a warrior and tried as one but by trying him in a civilian court, we give him no acceptability and treat his crime as nothing but what it is, common murder.

Although I accept it as an act of terror, I can understand and agree with the Senator.

Keli Ata said...

It's a question I've been asking for quite a while.

Shavua tov.

Maggie M. Thornton said...

If he is to be tried in criminal court, will we try him under Obama's new hate-crime legislation? The answer, of course, is no.

life insurance broker Canada said...

Well, from the perspective of showing the terrorists, how we see them, the civilian court is of course the right choice, how to express the disregard. But the question is - is it worth the concerns and the possibility of acquitting these people just because of a reasonable doubt based on a possible inadmissibility of an evidence gained by a torture? I don't think so. Gestures are nice but not at the time, when the important purpose is being risked. Lorne

DP111 said...


It is hard to understand why this Islamic terrorist (or illegal combatant) is being tried in a civil court.

However, an article here may explain some of the reasons which bogged down the Bush administartion

McCarthy explains why the Bush administration was unable to try the Guantanamo prisoners

Anonymous said...

Using your logic, I guess it was a bad idea to try Eichmann in Jerusalem, eh?

Sultan Knish said...

The Eichmann trial was a legal mess, but it did not occur during the course of a war. With the destruction of Nazi Germany having occurred over a decade ago and the Eichmann hardly serving as an ordinary criminal trial, it was a defensible proceeding. In practice though the only real reason for the proceedings was educational. If not for that, there was no credible reason why Eichmann could not have just been executed since there was no debate as to who he was and what he had done.

A Jew With A View said...

Spot on.

It's not even a case of the free world being at war with Islam - ISLAM is at war with US. Thus by default, yes, we are engaged in warfare - not only with Islam but also with the evils of liberalism.

I now loathe liberals virtually as much as I do terrorists.

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