President Obama on Thursday defended his decision to shutter the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the prison has made the United States less safe and set back the country's "moral authority."Evidently the release of the OLC memos and all the rhetoric haven't done the trick. He keeps having to repeat this campaign theme over and over, only to have Cheney come out and mutter a few things on TV, which prompts a return in front of TOTUS to slam waterboarding again, only to have Cheney's numbers go up. Maybe Dowd was onto something after all.
And how's that for irony--speaking at the National Archives on a national security theme (as to the Gates miscue, looks like he drifted off TOTUS to his notes for a moment, natch).
Meanwhile in the backdrop of this dueling speechifying the US arrested a homespun jihad cell in New York planning to blow up some houses of worship and a military transport. Guess the rhetoric wasn't working on them, either.
Obama still has visions of going back to the salad days where terrorism was a nuisance and terrorists were tried in Federal Court to limited fanfare. He announced the DoJ will bring one of the Africa Embassy bombers from Gitmo to lower Manhattan for trial (where he's been under indictment since the late 90s). According to Holder and Obama if we can do it with Ramzi Yousef and the Blind Santa, we can do it again.
Neither are mentioning the complications present with both those trials that had future ramifications. In the Yousef case they failed to connect any dots to Uncle Khalid, who later blew up the Trade Center. There's also this if you're into conspiracies. As to the Blind Shake case, we had threats for years tied to springing him from jail and of course there was the Lynn Stewart mess. Returning to a law enforcement approach only puts national security back in the hands of the lawyers.
Anywho, the last time our government mentioned Ahmed Ghailani (before his capture) they were gravely concerned about a new attack being planned that might have included the following terrorists:
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
Jdey has not been seen since the Canadian CSIS said he left Canada in November 2001. There has been a lot of speculation (just Google him) about him and the anthrax attacks and/or American Flight 587, most of it probably specious, but his disappearance has done nothing to squelch that speculation.
Gadahn, aka, Azzam the American, was a public voice on Jihad TV for awhile, but has now disappeared. Whether he was introduced face to face with Mr Hellfire is unknown.
Shukrijumah is perhaps the most dangerous terrorist in the world who hasn't done anything yet (that we know of). Here's a piece on his importance. And yes, he's a pilot.
Siddiqui was captured in Afghanistan and later was involved in a gun battle while in captivity according to the military. She's particularly important due to her university background. No word on how her prosecution is going, but she's not at Gitmo.
Amer al-Matti is also a pilot, also a Canadian, and also hasn't been seen in Canada for awhile.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is still on the lam. He was an accomplice in the African Embassy bombing plot 10+ years ago, when Holder was last at DoJ.
Matter of fact, there are several others still on the loose besides number one and two, like Abdullah Abdullah, Sheikh Swedan, Saif al-Adel, Fahid Msalam, Ahmed Ali, and Anas al-Libi who are all still wanted for the African Embassy bombings; a few Hizballah thugs still wanted for the hijacking of TWA 847 in 1985, several of the perps involved in Khobar Towers and of course Abdul Yasin, one of the bomb mixers in the 1993 WTC attack, last seen in Baghdad.
Moving forward is fine but history doesn't simply go away. Obama promised a transparent government; his attempts to politicize his predecessor's approach to terrorism--something even an uber-liberal from San Francisco wouldn't do when things were hot--is perhaps the biggest transparency of his administration so far. And it appears the public is beginning to take note.
Yes I know, most are tired of hearing all this. Perhaps the Republicans should focus on the government's control of GMAC and 2/3rds of the US auto business; or related dichotomies; or stuff like this:
Dan Brockman, who retired from his job at a General Motors Co. brake plant in Dayton in 2007 after learning the plant would close, applauded the federal assistance and said he might be one of the workers helped by it.Harder targets, I guess.
The anonymous commenter was correct. The point here was to illustrate how fruitless Obama's TOTUS-fueled campaign rhetoric of blaming Bush seems to be, while pointing out how fruitless our previous law-enforcement approach to terrorism really was. But don't worry, my day job is still intact. Allow me to defer to a professional writer:
If any president has gone to such lengths to attack his White House predecessor as Obama did today, I don't recall it. True, presidents have blamed the prior administration for problems they inherit, but I can't think of a president who did so as aggressively and with such moral preening as Obama.Meanwhile, SecDef William Gates is out defending Obama's decision to close Gitmo on day one without a plan because the place is a taint on the US, but it seems to me a blue-ribbon panel announced on day one to 'study' the issue would have worked just as well. We need a prison camp somewhere.
There was a reason for this. His speech was a dodge because when it came to the issue at hand--what to do with the 240 remaining terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo--he had no answer at all. Instead, the best he could do was elaborate on the five categories in which his administration has pigeonholed the detainees.
As it stands, Obama has poked himself with his own knife by creating a needless ultimatum for himself while Cheney runs around reminding everyone how dangerous are detainees KSM, Binalshibh, and Zubaydah as the world (including Congress) takes a Pandora's Clock approach.