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Friday, November 20, 2009

Obama doesn't get it on terrorism

This was the big story in the US the last couple of days that I was there (especially in New York). I don't know how much play it's gotten in Israel, but it's important for Israelis to understand it.

Khaleed Sheikh Muhammad, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, is to be brought to a civilian trial in New York on charges of murdering more than 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. Muhammad, who is currently being held as a prisoner of war in the Guantanamo military base in Cuba, and therefore has no rights under American law, has asked to be put to death. That's not good enough for the Obama administration. They insist on trying him in a civilian court and not in a military court, and they will bring him to New York to do this.

To give you an idea of how poorly this has been thought out, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked in a Senate hearing earlier this week what would happen if KSM was acquitted in a jury trial. Would he be released in New York? Holder's response: "Failure is not an option." Huh?

I can't wait to see what happens when the prosecution uses all their peremptory challenges (the right to challenge jurors' impartiality without explaining why) to exclude all Muslims (they'd be fools not to use them that way). Will the prosecution be accused of discrimination? Will we have a hearing in front of the Supreme Court to determine whether the prosecution discriminated illegally against Muslims? It's already been held that you can't use peremptory challenges to exclude jurors based on race.

On top of that, as you might imagine, New Yorkers are living in fear of having this terrorist in their midst - fear that someone will try to spring him from prison and murder more New Yorkers in the process. What could go wrong?

Charles Krauthammer comments (Hat Tip: Soccer Dad via Twitter).
Finally, there's the moral logic. It's not as if Holder opposes military commissions on principle. On the same day he sent KSM to a civilian trial in New York, Holder announced he was sending Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, (accused) mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole, to a military tribunal.

By what logic? In his congressional testimony Wednesday, Holder was utterly incoherent in trying to explain. In his Nov. 13 news conference, he seemed to be saying that if you attack a civilian target, as in 9/11, you get a civilian trial; a military target like the Cole, and you get a military tribunal.

What a perverse moral calculus. Which is the war crime -- an attack on defenseless civilians or an attack on a military target such as a warship, an accepted act of war that the United States itself has engaged in countless times?

By what possible moral reasoning, then, does KSM, who perpetrates the obvious and egregious war crime, receive the special protections and constitutional niceties of a civilian courtroom, while he who attacked a warship is relegated to a military tribunal?

Moreover, the incentive offered any jihadist is as irresistible as it is perverse: Kill as many civilians as possible on American soil and Holder will give you Miranda rights, a lawyer, a propaganda platform -- everything but your own blog.

Alternatively, Holder tried to make the case that he chose a civilian New York trial as a more likely venue for securing a conviction. An absurdity: By the time Barack Obama came to office, KSM was ready to go before a military commission, plead guilty and be executed. It's Obama who blocked a process that would have yielded the swiftest and most certain justice.
Read the whole thing.

The lesson here for Israelis is that we should not expect any help or understanding from the Obama administration if we have to go on a spree of targeted killings of terrorist leaders. We won't get it regardless of how many Israelis are God forbid killed. We have to liquidate the terrorists regardless of Obama's reaction. Even if the American leadership is willing to abdicate the defense of its citizens, Israelis cannot follow.


At 1:12 PM, Blogger chanan dov said...

Holder's previous law firm is Covington and Harris, who are representing 18, including these 5, at Guantanimo. They get paid by the Government 500 dollars an hour to represent the Jihadis. Holder still has a retirement account with this firm, which continues to accrue funds. This firm will earn tens of millions of dollars. Meanwhile the US will have to spend 100 million for security over 4 years. NYC will have to be reimursed 100 million for security over 4 years. Holder put the cherry on top when he said, even if they were found not guilty they would not be released.

At 3:22 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel cannot trust an Administration that cannot be trusted to keep a pledge to Israel made as recently as a month ago, never mind honoring agreements previous Administrations made with Israel.

America may forfeit its right to defend itself from jihadist attacks on its soil. Israel cannot and will not follow that policy.

What could go wrong indeed


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