Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Politics of Terrorist Trials

Robert Gibbs was hit with a question today in the daily briefing--paraphrasing--"when will the trial for al-Nashiri be conducted?" He gave the same stock answer the families have heard for 10 long years. Ten long years ago today, as a matter of fact. Obama waxed reflective:
“I will never forget meeting with some of the families of the victims of this bombing in February 2009. I am deeply grateful to them for their sacrifice, and their efforts to keep the memory of this tragic event alive in our nation’s conscience.
They probably haven't forgotten, either:
Obama called a meeting of the Cole families and made us feel comfortable that something would be done. Now I see that it was a political stunt and how disingenuous he was on this issue. Supposedly we had a contact person at the White House. Obama told us we would always have an open phone. After the announced decision I tried calling this guy and am not getting any response at all. It seems this administration does not care.
Hmm. According to this story everyone is ready to go:
“We don’t have a date yet” for reviving the charges, the official said. When he and other military officials have asked about the delay, they’ve been told, “The administration wants to wait until after the election to go forward,” the official added.
Today it was announced that lawyers for Major Hasan have asked for a 30 day delay (until after the election). Nobody seems to know much about the trial of Underbomber Abdulmutallab other than he's fired his lawyers and wants to defend himself--usually a sign he wants the opportunity to rant off a diatribe like Little Rock recruiter jihadist Abdulhakim, whose own state trial is also languishing and under a gag order (apparently for everyone except the suspect).

Maybe the Ghailani trial (Embassy bombings) has provided enough negative PR already this close to the mid-terms. But fret not--no matter what happens (guilt, innocence, hung juries) these guys will all remain locked up for life. And their brothers on the battlefield will be killed on site. There will be no stealing of democracy!

Sure, it's troubling if Justice is delaying justice for political reasons. Not surprising, but troubling nonetheless because it shows an apparent disregard for the importance of this fight. But if true it's not entirely clear whether that reluctance would be over the right's reaction to trials in federal court (Nashiri is to be tried in a military tribunal) or the left's anger over all things terrorism and torture in general and their perception that the administration has failed miserably in their responsibility to frogmarch enough Bush criminals.

Most likely it's the latter. Not that Obama wouldn't delight in frogmarching a few Republicans this close to the mid-terms if he could, but when the shoe is on the other foot it sometimes tends to produce a clearer view. Besides, there's always hope.

MORE 10/13/10

Here's an MSNBC article on the Cole by Michael Isikoff rehashing the "Bush ignored Richard Clarke" meme that invariably comes up in leftist circles, the crux being that bin Laden was able to use the non-response to the Cole as a recruiting tool before 9/11.

So let's get this straight. Attacking Muslim lands to strike back after attacks is a recruiting tool for the jihadists. NOT striking back after attacks is a recruiting tool for the jihadists.

While 'stale' might not be the best term to describe the situation after the Bush folks came in it was close--there was no outrage or public cry to revenge the attack outside the national security sector. The public was resting from the election snafu and had still not figured out AQ was at war with the west and what it meant, nor, apparently had the new administration. Imagine for a second had Bush come on TV and announced he was invading Afghanistan in June 2001 due to the Cole attack, and how the left would have reacted.

2 comments:

LASunsett said...

//....the crux being that bin Laden was able to use the non-response to the Cole as a recruiting tool before 9/11.

So let's get this straight. Attacking Muslim lands to strike back after attacks is a recruiting tool for the jihadists. NOT striking back after attacks is a recruiting tool for the jihadists.
//

I know I sound sarcastic, but this is just me thinking out loud again:

If I am not mistaken, I think the attacks escalated when we did nothing. It could be my warped sense of erroneous perception, but I think that's the order of things.

They kept upping the ante until we noticed enough to do something. But as long as we do not prosecute in a timely manner, we know they will continue to add to the docket and we will be content to house and feed them as people who are innocent until proven guilty.

A.C. McCloud said...

I agree with keeping some semblance of due process in this fight to show the world we are serious about our republic, but at the same time they are going to have to go with the verdict. If they bring them to federal court and they get off on a technicality, then they've got to let them go. Otherwise it makes our republic look like a joke.