November 14, 2009

Anyone Else Got a Sinking Feeling?

Justin Katz

And the latest Friday news drop arrives:

In a move both politically and legally risky, the Obama administration plans to put on trial the professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and four alleged accomplices in a lower Manhattan courthouse.

The venue for the biggest trial in the age of terrorism means prosecutors must balance difficult issues such as rough treatment of detainees and sensitive intelligence-gathering with the Justice Department's desire to prove that the federal courts are able to handle terrorism cases.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision Friday to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to trial in a courtroom barely a thousand yards from the site of the World Trade Center's twin towers they are accused of destroying.

It'd be a comfort even to believe that the Obama administration at least has a sense of the fire with which they're playing. Folks, the inmates are running the asylum.

Michelle Malkin's got details of what to expect, including this summary from Andy McCarthy:

So: We are now going to have a trial that never had to happen for defendants who have no defense. And when defendants have no defense for their own actions, there is only one thing for their lawyers to do: put the government on trial in hopes of getting the jury (and the media) spun up over government errors, abuses and incompetence. That is what is going to happen in the trial of KSM et al. It will be a soapbox for al-Qaeda's case against America. Since that will be their "defense," the defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and — depending on what judge catches the case — they are likely to be given a lot of it. The administration will be able to claim that the judge, not the administration, is responsible for the exposure of our defense secrets. And the circus will be played out for all to see — in the middle of the war. It will provide endless fodder for the transnational Left to press its case that actions taken in America's defense are violations of international law that must be addressed by foreign courts. And the intelligence bounty will make our enemies more efficient at killing us.

The question comes to mind whether this stunt will have a higher American death toll than the insanity of continued fealty to the suicidal mandates of vielfalt uber alles. (That's meant to be "diversity above all," in case I'm abusing the Internet translator.)

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This stunt is all about the Obama administration putting the CIA and the Bush administration on trial for "crimes against terrorists". If it weren't so unbelievably dangerous and evil it would be laugh out loud funny. Why do a military tribunal to seek justice when you can give the terrorists and their liberal subversive American lawyers a forum to lie and lie and lie as a way to incite and incite and incite their loony brethren through media coverage. Why protect our national security interests when you can out our CIA playbook on tactics used to capture and interrogate known terrorists?
I said it months ago and I'll say it again. Barack Obama will go down as the most destructive President in the history of America to the United States of America.
Please note that our girly President made sure he was in Asia before this decision was made public.
What a man!!
Btw how would you like to be a jurist on this trial. Does anyone honestly believe their ID's will never be leaked out? How's you like to be a family member of a 9/11 murder victim and sit through an OJ trial?
That's what's coming folks.

Posted by: Tim at November 14, 2009 10:53 AM

I've said this before and will repeat it,although my specific reference points have been repeated here enough times,so I'll skip them this time.
Eric Holder is a terrorist enabler,racist,America-hating traitor and his actions could not be carried out without the imprimatur and acquiescence of Obama.So Barry,if the shoe fits,wear it.This is like introducing a disease organism into your home when it belongs in a CDC lab.
This entire episode is an attempt by this administration to humiliate this country before the world by publicizing our "war crimes".Let's just ignore that the actions of the CIA,NSA and others saved millions of lives.The next threat might be carried through because of this and the perpetrators of this betrayal will have the blood of our citizens on their hands.
I know this is strong language,but never before have I believed any American administration was dedicated to the destruction of our way of life and our existence as a sovereign nation,so damn them to Hell.
Any member of this administration with a conscience must leave now or forever share the guilt.
And people were worried about Sotomayor's appointment!!

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 14, 2009 11:56 AM

Speculation concerning where Obama's real loyalties lie have changed from idle speculation to legitimate concerns, if not legitimate fear.

Note this regarding Obama's Muslim heritage:

Which in turn is linked from the first entry of the apparently comprehensively researched and credible / factual "The Obama Files" here:

Pray for our country. Our Commander in Chief may well be sympathetic to the other side, if not actively working to promote its triumph instead of ours.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at November 14, 2009 12:36 PM

Joe I have a very serious and very honest question to ask. I believe we're at the very beginning of a slow motion civil war in this nation. You see it in the media, you see it in the intolerance right and left has for one another, you see it in the rise of the militia movements in this country et al.
You can feel the vibe in this country and it's not a good vibe.
Joe my question is how real do you see the threat that certain elements within the government/military industrial complex are going to move against this subversive administration?

Posted by: Tim at November 14, 2009 2:04 PM

Bring the terrorists to New York. Let them stand trial and be dealt American Justice. Unfortunately, they survived their capture, now it is time to hear the facts, make a descision and put an end to it. As an American, I want my government to have nothing to hide, nothing to fear and nothing to lose. This right vs. left civil war nonsense is just that; nonsense. The only people paying attention to it are extremists with little else to do but dabble in some strange game that the rest of us pay no attention to.

The President is the President. If he sucks we get rid of him in four years. If he does anthying resembling treason we get rid of him sooner. This is a country full of intelligent, productive people going about their lives the best we can. If things get too crazy, we will put a stop to it. Until that time, I've got more important things to do than worry about a right/left civil war.

Posted by: michael at November 14, 2009 2:23 PM

Leave aside questions of civil war; we're too interconnected, now. What interests me is this, from Michael:

Unfortunately, they survived their capture, now it is time to hear the facts, make a descision and put an end to it. As an American, I want my government to have nothing to hide, nothing to fear and nothing to lose.

So what facts ought we hear? Methods and specifics of our intelligence gathering and military strategies? Gratuitous details of interrogation techniques (again)? The propaganda of the terrorist masterminds?

Utter insanity. This isn't a lawyer TV show, Michael. These are killers associated with a subversive planet-wide network of assassin zealots who stroke the funny bones of left-wing nuts who'd like nothing better than to bring our county to heel.

As our national security deteriorates, I've no doubt that emergency personnel in American cities will most definitely have "more important things to do."

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 14, 2009 2:37 PM

I am assuming that there would be no trial if conviction was not assured by some means.

What I fear is a repeat of Nuremberg. That was a "show trial" that went down because I think the public was less sophisticated then. I doubt it would fly today.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 14, 2009 2:46 PM

This is indeed no TV show. This is the very heart and soul of what this country stands for. What have we become if we cannot bring criminals, because that is what I think these terrorists are, not soldiers, to justice? Are we afraid of our own court system? Has our military turned into a bunch of thugs not worthy of having light shed upon their interrogation tactics?

Intelligence gathering is an ugly business, but we have no business being in it if we must hide from ourselves.

Tell it like it is. If people don't like that we did and do some unsavory things to save American and other innocent lives too bad.

If the population can't stomach the spectacle that a NY trial is sure to bring, then good, I say. Having nothing to hide is liberating, being forced to keep secrets will ultimately lead to this civil war mentioned earlier, only it won't be between right and left, rather it will be between good and evil.

I choose to be on the side of good, even if it gets uncomfortable.

Posted by: michael at November 14, 2009 2:48 PM

What are your criteria for distinguishing between criminals and martial enemies? The terrorists aren't attacking particular individuals. They aren't choosing random targets. They're attacking citizens of a nation state in a movement seeking overthrow and domination. Do you mean to suggest that we should give them a higher degree of protection because they fight their war without following the rules of war? That would be bizarre.

Also bizarre is this notion that having our military strategies laid bare will somehow be healthy. Do you believe that nothing should be top secret? And as for interrogation techniques, we're not likely to learn anything new, but we are clearly going to give our internal and external enemies a gift-wrapped opportunity to blow them out of proportion and pour salt in old wounds.

In seeking to follow the cause of "good," you're content to enable evil, and good people will die as a result. I don't expect I'll be able to persuade you of that, and I'm not going to try. I will, however, suggest that I'll be watching for you to have the courage of your convictions in the future, as American soldiers and civilians come under increasing fire in the months and years to come and the likelihood and success of terrorist attacks on our country increases.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 14, 2009 3:11 PM

Mike if this trial in NY is all about justice and it's the right thing to do then why did the Obama administration wait until the President was out of the country and half way around the world before announcing it? Why would the Narcissistic Self Promoter in Chief want no part of an announcment where his administration claims to be seeking justice for 3,000 murdered Americans? Unless of course the Narcissist in Chief knows those claims are bogus and the real reason he wants the trial is pure politics. Might explain Barry's desire for thousands of miles of buffer between him and Holder no?
What a leader! What a man! What a joke!
Mike I do hope you see the good when these terrorists....oooops, I'm sorry I mean these common criminals demand to tour the crime scene and are observed laughing and smiling and spitting on the ground where thousands, including many of your brethren, were murdered.
Do enjoy the "show" because that is what this trial is all about, an Obama WH sanctioned legal-media show to embarrass the CIA and the Bush admininstration in front of the world. Obama better hope the CIA doesn't decide to bite back against him because if that happens then our cities will burn like they did in the 60's and you and Obi Wan Kenobi will need your lightsabers when seeking out all that is good on the streets of Providence.
Mike, I can't say that I'm suprised that you're unaware of the slo-mo civil war already underway in this society. It's clear from your Good Ship Lollipop mentality that such cultural and societal introspections are way above your pay grade.

Posted by: Tim at November 14, 2009 4:18 PM

I am no lawyer so I don't understand the legal implications of having a civil trial vs. military one. While I agree with the comments in the post by M. Malkin/A. McCarthy, I don't typically trust Malkin for anything other than hyperbolic partisanism in her comments.

Having said that, a civil trial for this seems crazy on many levels. I don't see how it could even become about the policies of Bush/Cheney. They were in office for 8-9 months on 9/11? Wouldn't the specific abuses at Guantonomo be irrelevant since that was AFTER 9/11? These terrorists hated the US for policies well before Bush/Cheney.

I don't see the partisan (Bush/Cheney war crimes) angle for having a civil trial? If the thinking is that the defense will be only against the Bush/Cheney admin, then I am missing something. And then the risk to families of the jury? The PR disaster in the Islamic/Muslim community, the US military, the CIA, US Foreign Policy since 1970 -- for the circus this public trial will be.

I don't understand the thinking of the Obama admin for this idea. It seems to me that the only possible good end result in both political and practical terms result is a quick guilty verdict resulting in the death penalty.

I cannot believe that he wants them to be found not guilty or have the families re-live it. But maybe the admin is more malevolent than I thought.

Can someone enlighten me?

Posted by: msteven at November 14, 2009 4:42 PM

Tim-I hate to speak a self-fulfilling prophecy when the concept of another civil war comes up.However,positions are hardened like never before in my lifetime.I really don't want to see cities burn and the worst specter is a racially based conflict.I side with those I think are on the same page,or at least the same side of the street as I am,regardless of who they are.I don't need someone to agree with me on everything,just whether this country comes before all others in our hearts.
I have no clue if the military would make a move against the administration,but the CIA is another issue.They are being betrayed by the government and the government has aligned itself. with the traitors in the ACLU.I don't even tar the whole ACLU membership with one brush-there are people in it who really think it's still about civil liberties,not realizing it never was.Just google the founder, Roger Baldwin to find out what it was meant to be.His vision was the endof American sovreignty.
Michael-these are not criminals.They were battlefield operators,but not regular soldiers,and therefore not actually deserving even a military tribunal under the rules of war.However,I would go along with the tribunal system.
The tribunal will try the USS Cole attackers.Why the difference?A military target?Then why not try the case in a tribunal because the Pentagon was a military target?Something to think about.Why not in Virginia?Not enough wild haired radical puke lawyers there?
I think the country is truly divided and the more of Obama's mask that slips,the less support he will retain.
For now,if one is smart,they will be armed and have enough ammo to make a dent on whoever comes to mess with them.In a worst case scenario,just remember we all have to die anyway-better a free person than a slave when that time comes.
I do pray for a peaceful resolution to our problems.This is far too great a country to devolve into a Balkan style bloodbath.We've done it once before and it still has a legacy of bitterness over 140 years down the road.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 14, 2009 6:11 PM

I remember reading Killer Angels about fifteen years ago. It was my first attempt at educating myself about our civil war.

One of the first battles was First Manassas or the Battle of Bull Run. The thing that sticks out in my mind was that many people in Washington came out to watch the battle, kind of like how we watch football games on a Sunday afternoon.

That's how many Americans are managing this crisis today. They are casual observers watching the battlefield but have no idea of what is about to unfold.

People like Joe are sounding the alarm and like most early believers he may end up a casualty (at least as it regards the public opinion polls).

Sounding the alarm is good. Organizing a team of alarmists is better. Ending the current administration's ability to govern is best.


Posted by: Sol Venturi at November 14, 2009 7:07 PM

I loved Killer Angels, great book. Different time, different struggle. There will be no civil war in our lifetime. Maybe a revolution, but no civil war.

Posted by: michael at November 14, 2009 7:15 PM

I don't think the civil war theory is too far fetched.

I hope it is!

But, when I see an administration, hell-bent on driving the nation away from the roots of its founding; as I review economic principles, study history and conclude we are inevitably headed toward economic doom; as I watch a President trading our nations strength for cheers at overseas rallies; as I see more and more people getting angry and frustrated as they are robbed of the the American Dream, robbed of security, robbed of their earnings and savings; as I see these same patriots belittled and dismissed as "astroturf" by arrogant, elitist, economic and foreign policy lightweights...

At the same time, I see hundreds of people who still haven't taken the stupid Obama stickers off their cars!

I hear children singing songs to Chairman Maobama and people getting all giddy about "Obama money" from the "Obama stash"!

I don't even see anyone on the left putting up a rational defense of the Obamagenda. It's blind allegiance to a corrupt process that is taking the country from its people and handing it over to the state.

I see a growing number of people who will stop an nothing to defend freedom. But I also see a discomforting mass of lemmings who march to the statist cadence no matter where it leads.

Michael's point that we can just vote them out in a few years is hopeful, but only if the angry keep growing in numbers.

Posted by: George at November 14, 2009 9:23 PM

Reading the posts above, I can only conclude that even if the terrorists are found guilty and receive the death penalty, they've won.
Why else are we demanding the overthrow of a president who wasn't even in elected office on Sept. 11, 2001?

Posted by: rhody at November 15, 2009 2:20 AM

Yes "Rhody",they will have won.Does it not occur to you that they want to be martyrs to begin with,so the death penalty is not what it would be to a normal individual raised with the values we have in the non-Islamic world?
Their victory is already won,by the introduction of this case to the normal criminal justice system.They have accomplished,with the help of Obama and Holder,a move to a legal venue where a show trial exposing secret methods and operations will weaken our ability to effectively counter their type of warfare in the future.
In the case of Moussaui(sp?)he was arrested in the US,so in fact the criminal justice system was applicable in that case.
You are so far in the tank for Obama that you are able to be in a state of denial where it concerns the stated desire of these terrorists to incinerate even appeasing liberals like yourself.You really ought to vote for Lincoln Chafee because you truly seem to appreciate those with their heads up their asses.
I know this is a stretch for you,but you might actually take the time to study the history of military tribunals in the US and the way we have historically dealt with foreign saboteurs,such as the German agents landed by U Boat on Long Island during WW2.Read about that case and get back to me.Or don't.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 15, 2009 7:21 AM

This isn't about justice, or showing that America has the moral high ground.

This is about a President who spends more time and energy trying to apologize to and appease the sentiments of his European socialist fan base than he does actually governing his own country.

A criminal trial in NYC is merely the latest manifestation of the "WWED" ("What would Europe Do?") Presidency.

Posted by: EMT at November 15, 2009 8:38 AM

Very astute observation EMT-it seems he is running for President of the EU sometimes.He and his wife spend enough money shopping there.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 15, 2009 9:02 AM

George, I'm hoping the angry keep growing. Most of us don't buy the "Right vs. Left" dogma preached by rating and popularity mongers such as Hannity and Rush. "The Libs," "The Left" and other labels are disingenuous except in extreme cases.

Most of us don't want to be labeled and take offense at this whole us vs. them divide being spun out of control by people looking to furthur their own agenda. We're in this together, and a lot closer in ideaology than the self promotors will lead you to believe.

It just might be a good idea to close Guantanomo and have the trial in New York. It is my perhaps naive faith in human nature and the inherant prevelance of good prevailing over evil that leads me to believe that through the circus that is going to happen, justice will be served.

Our justice. The People of America. Not always in agreement, but ultimately right.

Posted by: michael at November 15, 2009 9:55 AM

I'd like to offer the front page of today's New York Post (h/t Tom McGuire) as evidence that the people of New York aren't going to let themselves be bulldozed by a circus of terrorist sympathizing.

Click here for cover image.

For a slightly more erudite take than the Post's, I agree with much of what Mike Potemra says at National Review Online here.

I also think that trying non-uniformed foreign terrorists who have made war against the United States in civilian rather than military courts is a bizarre choice; like Joe B has said, during WWII, German saboteurs in the US were tried as enemy combatants by military commissions on the orders of FDR, convicted of the charges and ultimately sentenced to death. The choice to go the civilian courts route may owe as much to Bush Derangement Syndrome thinking as anything else i.e. Bush would have done it this way, so we have to do it a different way, but I don't see a disagreement -- even a serious one -- over what process to use to pursue the death penalty to be part of a civil war.

One last point: as Islamist terrorists are motivated by a belief that Islamic law is the only legitimate source of law on earth, moving capital cases involving Islamists to courts operating under American criminal law isn't going to produce the ameliorating effects everywhere in the world that the Obama administration assumes that it will.

(Note: Misdirected links fixed as of noontime. -- Andrew)

Posted by: Andrew at November 15, 2009 10:43 AM

German saboteurs were part of an army, The terrorists are criminals. They deserve to be treated as such. Common criminals tried in American courts. Their Jihad, or declaration of war against America does not make them an army consisting of soldiers. Their "act of war" is actually mass murder committed by murderers. Period.

A crime was committed on American soil. We have the right and obligation to pursue the people suspected of these crimes. If a country refuses to cooperate in extradition proceedings, let them know, and the world for that matter, that we will be sending people into their country to find the criminals. Send the FBI, CIA, ATF whatever it takes to catch the criminals and bring them here to face their accusers. Then try and if found guilty convict them. If the host country doesn't like it let them declare war on us. If they invade the US, then we have a good old fashioned war on our hands.

Posted by: michael at November 15, 2009 3:31 PM

Michael-the Jihadists are part of a worldwide irregular army.If you can't see this and still think they are common criminals,it seems like you have a blind spot.
Warfare doesn't look the same as it did in WW2.
During Vietnam,the US instituted Operation Phoenix,during which thousands of VC infrastructure personnel were killed.These personnel didn't outwardly look or act like soldiers,but they formed the VC political structure.It was a completely legitimate attempt to destroy the enemy effectiveness by diminishing their human support system.The problem was that this came too late,when the NVA reulars were in the South in major numbers and were essentially shouldering the bulk of the communist war effort.
The whole concept of warfare has changed since tyhe Fifites,although to be sure there are still many conflicts that are instantly recognizable as the more common understanding of warfare.
I don't know if you are in serious denial,or you really can equate these terrorist leaders/operators as criminals akin to bank robbers and drug dealers.
Most criminals with the exception of sexual predators are in it for the money.These people most certainly are not.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 15, 2009 3:51 PM

I see perfectly clear. That doesn't mean the message from my eyes to my brain doesn't have to go through some pretty heavy layers of cement, but this time I have to disagree with the notion that these terrorists are anything but criminals.

Crime for profit, crime for power or crime for the sake of crime is still crime. Crime for the purpose of promoting an idealogy is a horrible crime, worse that crime committed for personal advancement. I honestly cannot understand how anybody can call what these terrorists are accused of doing is anything but a cowardly criminal act. The 9-11 attacks weren't even that clever. If I had twenty suicidal maniacs at my disposal and millions of dollars and a vendetta I could have come up with a better plan than these guys did in a few hours.

This should never have been a "War" on terror. Think back to the days following 9-11. Had we pursued the criminals with the same determination, commitment and financial investment we used in invading Iraq we would have captured or killed Osama Bin Laden and this would have been over.

War is war, no matter what face it shows. Crime is crime. And this is clearly crime.

Posted by: michael at November 15, 2009 4:26 PM

michael-I agree completely with you on the fact that diverting our forces and energies from Afghanistan to Iraq was a major error that cost us a lot of lives,money,and the chance to destroy or at leat seriously degrade Al Qaeda.
This however,is a collateral argument that does nothing to demonstarte the wisdom of treating these people as criminals.I notice you refer to capturing Bin Laden-wouldn't just killing him and his command group be better?

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 15, 2009 6:03 PM

Yes, killing him and his command group would be better. Who does the killing matters. By treating the terrorists like a foe worthy of the armed forces of the United States and our allies we have empowered their position and legitimized their status among other Muslums. Treating them like the criminals they are works on different levels. Their elevated status among people in the region wears thin, the Marytrdom they seek is tainted and it is more difficult to recruit new members into a criminal enterprize than an "army."

I believe we have adequete law enforcement capabilities, and if they are not enough for the job we can get them, and international law, if such a thing even exists is on our side. Countries on the fence are more willing to lend a hand catching murderers than they are soldiers.

Posted by: michael at November 15, 2009 6:19 PM

I hope that "MIchael" doesn't happen to bet cavorting around Central Park on the day that the "criminals" detonate the nuke in NYC that was "lifted" from the Iranian government.

You know, the same folks that engineered the bombing of the U.S Marine barracks in Beirut, presumable (according to "Michael" so that they could pickpocket the wallets of the dead Marines.

And that bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, well that was just a botched breaking and entering attempt.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at November 15, 2009 8:33 PM

Wow, this has gotten -far- into kookyland.

First, the idea that 'secrets' will be revealed is silly. There are ways to keep the secrets secret, and let the stuff that can be told be told. If the government can take the logs from this server and not even allow the server's operator disclose to Justin that they're doing it (which is possible), they can sure as hell declare all sorts of things 'state secrets' and keep them out of the news media, or even the trial. Chances are that the -judge- won't even hear anything that legitimately needs to be kept a secret.

Second, I think it does more harm to hold someone in limbo in a prison we operate, but in a land where our constitution means nothing, than it does to just put them on trial, regardless of the outcome. What we are doing with Guantanamo is -precisely- the sort of thing our English oppressors were doing to us two hundred and fifty years ago that got us so riled-up.

America is not above the law. We are bound to uphold the procedures, ethics, and values that we profess to live by.

If anything, what we should have learned from the last eight years is that we must remain calm and formulate a proper response to the attacks that have been waged upon us. Osama Bin Laden et al should have been charged with destruction of several billion dollars of property and 2,700 murders. We should have made a firm request to the Taliban to hand-over Al Qaeda. When that failed, we should have amassed a huge force of troops outside Afghanistan and sent in a few special-ops teams to extricate the criminals.

Instead, we started two wars, one almost completely unrelated to the issue-at-hand. We've spent -hundreds of billions- of unbudgeted dollars. We've lost more soldiers in revenge than citizens we lost on 9/11. As is typical in American policy, our 'fix' costs more than the problem ever did.

This Al Qaeda problem, which was really just a few thousand extremists, could have been solved without a massive expenditure in dollars and lives. For a few million dollars per-head, we could be living in a world without Al Qaeda right now.

We need to bring these people to justice, and the justice needs to be by the same principles that make us -better- than our enemies. Anything less, and we will just be playing into the enemy's mantra that we are a nation of hypocrisy.

I believe we can do this, and I believe that nothing that is truly a 'national secret' will be revealed. I believe the bad guys are going to rot in jail or die by lethal injection. I believe that if they don't, it's because -we- made it impossible to convict them, by ignoring our own laws and principles. Turn off the talk radio and read the Declaration of Independence.

And I'm no fan of Obama, he didn't even get my vote the first time.

Posted by: mangeek at November 16, 2009 1:05 AM


1.) The problem is that our Constitution (which most of us have read, by the way) is directed at US citizens and legal immigrants. Having said that, it is true that there is no easy answer as to how to try these terrorists, though a civil court is not the answer and I strongly agree that it is unacceptable to detain them indefinitely.

2.) I wish I could share your confidence that they will be found guilty in a US federal court. A major complication to these cases is that torture was involved. Not everyone involved is necesssarily going to see or understand - or, most importantly, want to understand - that torture was used to obtain information about other potential attacks and it was not used (to my knowledge) to obtain a confession of culpability.

One other major problem, Mangeek. Were the defendants properly Mirandized before their arrest? If so, can the US prove that? These cases could be thrown out Day One on that basis alone.

Posted by: Monique at November 16, 2009 8:27 AM

Thanks, mangeek, that's what I was trying to say. I've been on this bandwagon since 9-12-01, gets a little frustrating.

Posted by: michael at November 16, 2009 8:28 AM

Michael and Mangeek,

In criminal matters, we respond primarily to acts that have already happened, to punish someone for something they've done. In matters of war, we've decided that an enemy has shown such clear intent to use violence against the innocent to get what it wants, we go beyond mere punishment for past acts and seek to do what is necessary to prevent future acts of violence -- even acts that haven't been planned yet -- by destroying the enemy's means for attacking again. (This is in large part what a declaration war signifies; that one country is willing to act against another not just for what it has done but to prevent what it might do in the future).

A serious problem with the criminal justice approach is that it risks bringing an end to deterrence as the lynchpin of America's defense strategy. Blow up buildings in New York, and we'll "indict" the perpetrators for attacking New York, maybe even send in the Special Forces in to "arrest" them. But if their compatriots are planning an attack against Chicago -- motivated, funded and supplied by the same people who supported the attack on New York -- they should go ahead with their plans, because in criminal matters we can only concern ourselves with people who were operationally involved with previous attacks; so as long as the enemy structures its org chart in the proper way, with enough insulation between individual cells, we're not "legally" allowed to eliminate the means for future attacks, even if they are possessed by an enemy that has shown an intent to carry them out.

For the past several centuries, a whole lot of this reasoning has been hidden by the fact that only nation-states had the ability to carry out war-scale violence on one another. So for example, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was obvious that the problem went beyond the carrier group that launched the attack -- the problem ultimately was with the government or maybe the nation that created the carrier group that launched the attack. The difference in the current world is that it is possible for organizations much smaller and much more loosely organized than nation states to launch mass-casualty attacks. But that doesn't mean that it makes sense to treat only the operational elements of a network committed to the use of violence as legitimate targets of action, any more than it would have made sense to treat the Japanese Navy as the only "organization" that was worthy of concern after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Two other quick points…

  1. I believe the US did give the Taliban an opportunity to turn over the members of Al-Qaida. Their response was that they would seek to capture him and put him on trial for his crimes in an Islamic court. The fact of the matter is that there's no guaranteed neat way to use international boundary-crossing large-scale force.
  2. The enemy's mantra is not that we are failing to live up to our own ideals. It's that we do not submit ourselves to Islamic law. And until we do, there is a wide range of coercive and violent behaviors they believe are legitimate.

Posted by: Andrew at November 16, 2009 1:15 PM

Andrew, the crime happened. It's over. We have the bad guy in custody. Once you have the bad guy, you put him on trial, the alternatives to trial or tribunal are all morally repulsive and counter-productive to our interests.

The fact that there are more bad guys out there is a separate issue, and one that does not negate the need to put those captured through a process that holds them accountable.

"Eventually, these people will have trials and they will have counsel and they will be represented in a court of law" -George W. Bush

As for the idea that "they're after us because we're not Muslim"... That's typical Muslim-to-Muslim rhetoric, it does not reflect the reality of their policy any more than campaign promises do in the west. 'Pushing Israel into the sea', 'beheading all the infidels', etc. are ways to rally your base, they're not actual policies, even in Sharia states. Al Qaeda doesn't want what we have, they want us out of Muslim lands. They're pissed-off that for 100 years we've been meddling in the middle-east, siphoning our money into corrupt regimes, drawing arbitrary lines on the sand and declaring them countries, and then playing the locals off each other and intervening when those lines don't match up with the populations living inside them. Now we have the arrogance, the audacity to proclaim that we're bringing them freedom on the tips of an endless stream of 2000-pound bombs.

Did we stop their war-making capacity? I thought they proved that they didn't -need- one to do us harm. All we proved was that we're rich, militant fools with more hubris than wisdom. We even invaded a country that had -nothing- to do with 9/11 or terrorism (seriously, all we had to do was ask and Iraq would have done whatever we wanted). We got played, Osama tricked us into belly-flopping into an empty pool.

Jumping into a 'war on terror' is insane, for each battle we win in a 'war on terror', we only create more hatred, which produces more terrorists. We should carefully -protect- ourselves (which we're doing a much better job of now), and use limited and discreet force when necessary to capture actual terrorists.

Posted by: mangeek at November 17, 2009 2:42 AM

I'm curious, Mangeek, prior to more substantive response: How old were you on 9/11?

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 17, 2009 5:17 AM

Mangeek-I think you want so badly to believe that by just trying to convince Islamic militants that we mean them no harm they will let up on us.No.
I guess you have trouble understanding that there are people who don't even know you who want to incinerate you.Maybe you can't deal with the reality of being hated for no reason.Well,you can't reason with their thinking.This isn't a recent phenomenon.
100 years?Learn history before you prattle about the sins WE have committed.
The US had little involvement in the Middle East until after WW2,when we supported the establishment of Israel.That was followed by our CENTO alliance(look it up)and the overthrow of the Mossadegh regime in favor of the Pahlavis.
The British have a long,ugly history in the region,as do the French,but last I checked we were not the UK or France,we are the USA,and what happened before we got involved,which really shaped the region,is not our responsibility.
Take the time to read about the formation of Saudi Arabia,Iraq,Transjordan,and Syria following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after WW1.
All this political history is apart from the endlessly recurring waves of Islamic fundamentalist campaigning in such diverse areas of the world as the Philippines,India,Sudan,and the Middle East since medieval times.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 17, 2009 9:00 AM

Justin, I was nineteen, two days before I was to report for school at Northeastern. I moved in to the international dorm (there was a housing crunch), and one of my roommates was unable to get into the states to study (he was from Pakistan). The first week of classes was marked by jets flying overhead, and various floor-mates of mine being roughed-up, interviewed, or just harassed by police on their way to and from class.

And Joe, what I mean by 'us' includes UK involvement, western involvement in general, I wasn't clear about that. I don't think that our long-standing policy of working against the -people- of the middle east is working out for us. We're chummed-up with some of the most backward and heinous regimes on the face of the planet to bring cheap oil home. We pump billions upon billions into Saudi Arabia, yet castigate less resource-rich nations for their customs. We 'stand strong' behind Israel even when they exact tremendously asymmetrical revenge on civilians. As far as I can tell, Israel is less of an 'ally' and more like a friend who always manages to get you into a fight at the bar.

Our entire Middle East policy is full of contradictions and counter-productive alignments. It's time to rethink the whole think from scratch.

Posted by: mangeek at November 17, 2009 11:20 AM

mangeek-thanks for the clarification,but I feel very little "us"when discussing France or the UK.The USA has its own unique character,and aside from the almost inadvertent spoils of the Spanish-American War,we never had a colonial empire.In any event,none of our possesssions had to revolt for their freedom,although the Aguinaldo insurgency in the Philippines could be a discussion.
I have to admit that your characterization of our relationship with Israel is pretty accurate.I do not want to go to war on their behalf.To be truthful,they have fought pretty well on their own when they were attacked in '48 and '73 and when they launched pre-emptive attacks in the face of impending agression in '56 and '67.
They started losing their way in the Lebanon campaign of 1982 and the continued occupation of the Palestinians has been shameful in many respects.They have a LOT of pull in the US Congress,largely because of AIPAC,which is an organization I detest.
The Arab states,on the other hand,with the exception of Jordan,have been less than constructive in their approach to the occupation impasse.
Wow,I didn't want to make this a Mid-East thread because the problem of Islamic agression is most definitely not confined to that arena.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 17, 2009 2:37 PM


Surely you've done this research, but I'd note that, while you were in your teens and earlier, even before your birth, Islamic terrorists were, well, terrorizing civilian Western targets. In the '90s, they began blowing up embassies, boats, and barracks and made an initial try for the World Trade Center. (Some would

You'll note that they haven't managed much against non-military American targets since 2001, left with only a few rogue killing sprees, like the Washington snipers and Fort Hood. That's an instructive distinction. Those are crimes. An organized unit of terrorists conducting well-planned missions worked out in foreign training camps is a martial attack. The difference is that the barbarians once required marauding troops to inflict damage on a targeted civilization. Now the rational actors on whom you depend for your worldview can sit in a decked out cave in the mountains of Asia, sharing a scotch with their nation-state hosts, and watch the sparks on television.

I sense that your mind is made up, although I'd suggest that you're old enough now to begin unlearning all the crap that you learned in school about all evils originating with the West, and especially the United States. But you really should give some thought to the radicals' personal state of mind. The suicide bombers, by definition, don't care about their own safety. If they observe that their missions tend to spark a military invasion that knocks all of their friends out of government and destroys terrorist bases and hangouts, that's a lot more weight on the decision to start down the terrorist road.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 17, 2009 6:51 PM
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