Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bowing to "World Opinion"

Bowing to "World Opinion"
Thomas Sowell
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In the string of amazing decisions made during the first year of the Obama administration, nothing seems more like sheer insanity than the decision to try foreign terrorists, who have committed acts of war against the United States, in federal court, as if they were American citizens accused of crimes.

Terrorists are not even entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention, much less the Constitution of the United States. Terrorists have never observed, nor even claimed to have observed, the Geneva Convention, nor are they among those covered by it.

But over and above the utter inconsistency of what is being done is the utter recklessness it represents. The last time an attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a matter of domestic criminal justice was after a bomb was exploded there in 1993. Under the rules of American criminal law, the prosecution had to turn over all sorts of information to the defense-- information that told the Al Qaeda international terrorist network what we knew about them and how we knew it.

This was nothing more and nothing less than giving away military secrets to an enemy in wartime-- something for which people have been executed, as they should have been. Secrecy in warfare is a matter of life and death. Lives were risked and lost during World War II to prevent Nazi Germany from discovering that Britain had broken its supposedly unbreakable Enigma code and could read their military plans that were being radioed in that code.

"Loose lips sink ships" was the World War II motto in the United States. But loose lips are mandated under the rules of criminal prosecutions.

Tragically, this administration seems hell-bent to avoid seeing acts of terrorism against the United States as acts of war. The very phrase "war on terrorism" is avoided, as if that will stop the terrorists' war on us.

The mindset of the left behind such thinking was spelled out in an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, which said that "Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will be tried the right way-- the American way, in a federal courtroom where the world will see both his guilt and the nation's adherence to the rule of law."

This is not the rule of law but the application of laws to situations for which they were not designed.

How many Americans may pay with their lives for the intelligence secrets and methods that can forced to be disclosed to Al Qaeda was not mentioned. Nor was there mention of how many foreign nations and individuals whose cooperation with us in the war on terror have been involved in countering Al Qaeda-- nor how many foreign nations and individuals will have to think twice now, before cooperating with us again, when their role can be revealed in court to our enemies, who can exact revenge on them.

Behind this decision and others is the notion that we have to demonstrate our good faith to other nations, sometimes called "world opinion." Just who are these saintly nations whose favor we must curry, at the risk of American lives and the national security of the United States?

Internationally, the law of the jungle ultimately prevails, despite pious talk about "the international community" and "world opinion," or the pompous and corrupt farce of the United Nations. Yet this is the gallery to which Barack Obama has been playing, both before and after becoming President of the United States.

In the wake of the obscenity of a trial of terrorists in federal court for an act of war-- and the worldwide propaganda platform it will give them-- it may seem to be a small thing that President Obama has been photographed yet again bowing deeply to a foreign ruler. But how large or small an act is depends on its actual consequences, not on whether the politically correct intelligentsia think it is no big deal.

As a private citizen, Barack Obama has a right to make as big a jackass of himself as he wants to. But, as President of the United States, his actions not only denigrate a nation that other nations rely on for survival, but raise questions about how reliable our judgment and resolve are-- which in turn raises questions about whether those nations will consider themselves better off to make the best deal they can with our enemies.
and along the same lines.....

Trying KSM in Civilian Court: Inconsistent, Indefensible, Inexplicable
Terry Jeffrey
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in a federal civilian court is inconsistent, indefensible and inexplicable.

It is inconsistent with Holder's own decision to try Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in a military commission. It is indefensible in light of the unmistakable intentions of the Framers of the Constitution. It is inexplicable by any prudential analysis of the national interest in dealing with an enemy like al-Qaida.

Some strange ideological impulse -- rather than common sense and respect for the rule of law -- is driving the Obama administration to give special treatment to the perpetrator of one of the greatest war crimes ever committed against the United States.

Consider the unequal treatment of Nashiri and Mohammed.

Nashiri is the al-Qaida mastermind of the Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors. Mohammed is the al-Qaida mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack that killed 2,973 people in New York City, Shanksville, Pa., and Northern Virginia, including 55 U.S. military personnel and 70 civilians serving in the Pentagon.

Both Nashiri and Mohammed were waterboarded during interrogations by the Central Intelligence Agency.

In deciding to try Nashiri in a military commission, the Obama administration is conceding that military commissions are constitutional, legal and fully capable of providing al-Qaida terrorists with fair trials consistent with longstanding American traditions of justice.

It would have been impossible for the Obama administration to maintain otherwise. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 10 of the Constitution says: "The Congress shall have Power ... To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations."

The Framers understood this language to authorize Congress to enact laws providing for military commissions to try unlawful enemy combatants -- a practice they knew well from firsthand experience. George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, had been personally responsible as commander in chief of the Continental Army for overseeing and carrying out the sentences of military commissions that tried British spies during the American Revolution. In 1942, the Supreme Court took up the case of Ex Parte Quirin, which pondered whether President Franklin Roosevelt -- our most left-wing president until now -- could lawfully and constitutionally order that a group of Nazi saboteurs captured on U.S. soil be tried by military commissions.

The unanimous justices pointed to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 10, and noted that Congress in 1806 had passed a law that "imposed the death penalty on alien spies 'according to the law and the usage of nations, by sentence of a general court martial.'" This 1806 law, they observed, was based on a prior law enacted by the Continental Congress on Aug. 21, 1776 -- hardly a month after approval of the Declaration of Independence.

That the Constitution intended for unlawful enemy combatants to be tried by military commissions and not by civilian courts, the justices concluded, "is a construction of the Constitution which has been followed since the founding of our government."

For President Obama to take Khalid Sheik Mohammad, captured overseas and held on a military base in Cuba, and put him in a civilian court in New York City to undergo a trial using legal procedures designed for the prosecution of American civilians who have not committed war crimes, does not reinstate the traditional American understanding of justice, it radically departs from it.

Why would President Obama and his attorney general choose this course? What point are they trying to make?

In a May 21 speech at the National Archives, Obama himself said: "Military commissions have a history in the United States dating back to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. They are an appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war. They allow for the protection of sensitive sources and methods of intelligence-gathering; they allow for the safety and security of participants; and for the presentation of evidence gathered from the battlefield that cannot always be effectively presented in federal courts."

Is it Obama's argument now that Khalid Sheik Mohammad did not violate the laws of war? Is it Obama's argument now that the United States does not need to protect sensitive sources and methods used in gathering intelligence on Mohammed and his al-Qaida affiliates? Is it Obama's argument now that the participants in Mohammed's trial will not need the safety and security provided by a military commission? Is it Obama's argument now that the case against Mohammed does not involve evidence gathered on battlefields that cannot be effectively presented in federal courts?

The truth is Obama has no argument at all to justify trying this unlawful enemy combatant who perpetrated war crimes against America in a civilian court designed for civilian crimes.

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