Commentary Magazine


Topic: Peter T. King

A Foreign Plot, a Common Criminal Trial

We learn from the criminal complaint that the Times Square jihadist bomber (and no, no member of the administration has used the words “Islamic extremist” or “Islamic terrorists,” so we are left again with a “crime,” the motive of which the president would like to ignore), Faisal Shahzad, “had received bomb-making training in the militant strongholds of western Pakistan.” The complaint further explains that he returned in February after a five-month visit to Pakistan. And while Janet Napolitano assured us that this was a “one-off” bomber (one bomb? or one lone wolf?), it now seems that he was not alone:

Pakistani officials identified one of the detainees as Tauhid Ahmed and said he had been in touch with Mr. Shahzad through e-mail, and had met him either in the United States or in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Another man arrested, Muhammad Rehan, had spent time with Mr. Shahzad during a recent visit there, Pakistani officials said. Mr. Rehan was arrested in Karachi just after morning prayers at a mosque known for its links with the militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad.

So how do we deal with such a person and with the network that surrounds him? Democrats are delighted he was Mirandized and will head for federal court, and Eric Holder went so far as to insist that even this incident had not driven a stake through KSM’s New York City trial: “Unfortunately, New York and Washington, D.C., remain targets of people who would do this nation harm. And regardless of where a particular trial is, where a particular event is going to occur, I think that is going to remain true. And it is why we have to be especially vigilant in New York as well as in Washington.” Regardless? Apparently our attorney general sees zero increased risk to the city that has now been targeted again.

Republicans weren’t so pleased with another display of the Obama team’s fetish for the criminal-justice model:

Republicans quickly called [the Mirandizing and federal-court venue] a mistake. “My own preference would be that he be tried in a military tribunal,” Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, Mr. Obama’s Republican presidential opponent in 2008, said it would be “a serious mistake” to give Mr. Shahzad his constitutional rights until he had been fully interrogated. “Don’t give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it’s all about,” Mr. McCain said on Don Imus’s talk show.

As the net sweeps in Shahzad’s accomplices and we learn more about the web of international connections, we will again face a key question: why does this administration insist on treating the perpetrators as criminals rather than the entire enterprise as an act of war? Apparently, we’re dealing with an administration convinced of its own virtue and wisdom and unwilling to deviate from its predetermined course. Unfortunately, ideology is not “so yesterday” with this group.

We learn from the criminal complaint that the Times Square jihadist bomber (and no, no member of the administration has used the words “Islamic extremist” or “Islamic terrorists,” so we are left again with a “crime,” the motive of which the president would like to ignore), Faisal Shahzad, “had received bomb-making training in the militant strongholds of western Pakistan.” The complaint further explains that he returned in February after a five-month visit to Pakistan. And while Janet Napolitano assured us that this was a “one-off” bomber (one bomb? or one lone wolf?), it now seems that he was not alone:

Pakistani officials identified one of the detainees as Tauhid Ahmed and said he had been in touch with Mr. Shahzad through e-mail, and had met him either in the United States or in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Another man arrested, Muhammad Rehan, had spent time with Mr. Shahzad during a recent visit there, Pakistani officials said. Mr. Rehan was arrested in Karachi just after morning prayers at a mosque known for its links with the militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad.

So how do we deal with such a person and with the network that surrounds him? Democrats are delighted he was Mirandized and will head for federal court, and Eric Holder went so far as to insist that even this incident had not driven a stake through KSM’s New York City trial: “Unfortunately, New York and Washington, D.C., remain targets of people who would do this nation harm. And regardless of where a particular trial is, where a particular event is going to occur, I think that is going to remain true. And it is why we have to be especially vigilant in New York as well as in Washington.” Regardless? Apparently our attorney general sees zero increased risk to the city that has now been targeted again.

Republicans weren’t so pleased with another display of the Obama team’s fetish for the criminal-justice model:

Republicans quickly called [the Mirandizing and federal-court venue] a mistake. “My own preference would be that he be tried in a military tribunal,” Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, Mr. Obama’s Republican presidential opponent in 2008, said it would be “a serious mistake” to give Mr. Shahzad his constitutional rights until he had been fully interrogated. “Don’t give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it’s all about,” Mr. McCain said on Don Imus’s talk show.

As the net sweeps in Shahzad’s accomplices and we learn more about the web of international connections, we will again face a key question: why does this administration insist on treating the perpetrators as criminals rather than the entire enterprise as an act of war? Apparently, we’re dealing with an administration convinced of its own virtue and wisdom and unwilling to deviate from its predetermined course. Unfortunately, ideology is not “so yesterday” with this group.

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An About-Face?

The New York Times, among other outlets, is reporting that the KSM trial may be heading out of New York:

As a growing chorus of New York politicians joined the opposition to a Manhattan trial for the accused Sept. 11 conspirators, a White House spokesman said on Thursday that President still believed a civilian criminal trial could be held “successfully and securely in the United States.” But Mr. Obama left any decision on moving the trial to the Justice Department, and administration officials said they had begun to discuss contingency plans for possible new locations.

It is absurd, of course, that a decision of this magnitude — as we were told, was the original decision to try KSM in New York — should be delegated to the Justice Department. Certainly Obama has become expert at evading responsibility, but at some point one would think the commander in chief would step forward and shoulder the responsibility for making the call.

The election of Scott Brown seems to have shaken some skeptics and chased them from their hiding spots. Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand, and other Democratic lawmakers are piping up:

Republicans in the Senate and House said they would try to block financing for civilian criminal trials for the alleged terrorists, seeking to force the administration to place them on trial before a military commission in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or on a military base elsewhere. Opponents of civilian trials said they hoped new doubts about a New York trial and increased fears of terrorism since the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day would win more Democratic support for such measures.

Even Sen Chuck Schumer is asking the White House to look for alternatives. But where? After New York chases what is sure to be a three-ring circus out of town, what other jurisdiction would want it? Better, say the Republicans, to return this issue to a military tribunal on a secure military base. (Hey, there is one in Guantanamo. How about that?) The Times reports:

Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would block financing for civilian trials for those accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, and Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said he would introduce a parallel bill in the Senate next week.

Mr. Graham, an experienced military prosecutor who has long argued that foreign terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants, proposed a similar amendment in November but it failed to pass the Senate by 54 to 45. He said he believed the same measure could pass today.

This would be a monumental admission of error by Obama and, more importantly, by his attorney general, who assured us all that this would be a slam dunk, a safe and pain free proceeding. Now that Obama has lost his mystical powers to silence his own party, the truth is seeping out: this is an expensive, dangerous, and entirely unnecessary deviation from historical practice. Obama is colliding with reality.

On Guantanamo, the KSM trial, and the Mirandizing of the Christmas Day bomber, the public and a congressional bipartisan consensus are taking the lead. The Obami’s leftward lark on national security, I suspect, is about to end. The Bush-era policies have been vindicated by none other than Obama, who proved the alternatives to be unworkable, foolish, and politically untenable. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney must be smiling broadly.

The New York Times, among other outlets, is reporting that the KSM trial may be heading out of New York:

As a growing chorus of New York politicians joined the opposition to a Manhattan trial for the accused Sept. 11 conspirators, a White House spokesman said on Thursday that President still believed a civilian criminal trial could be held “successfully and securely in the United States.” But Mr. Obama left any decision on moving the trial to the Justice Department, and administration officials said they had begun to discuss contingency plans for possible new locations.

It is absurd, of course, that a decision of this magnitude — as we were told, was the original decision to try KSM in New York — should be delegated to the Justice Department. Certainly Obama has become expert at evading responsibility, but at some point one would think the commander in chief would step forward and shoulder the responsibility for making the call.

The election of Scott Brown seems to have shaken some skeptics and chased them from their hiding spots. Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand, and other Democratic lawmakers are piping up:

Republicans in the Senate and House said they would try to block financing for civilian criminal trials for the alleged terrorists, seeking to force the administration to place them on trial before a military commission in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or on a military base elsewhere. Opponents of civilian trials said they hoped new doubts about a New York trial and increased fears of terrorism since the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day would win more Democratic support for such measures.

Even Sen Chuck Schumer is asking the White House to look for alternatives. But where? After New York chases what is sure to be a three-ring circus out of town, what other jurisdiction would want it? Better, say the Republicans, to return this issue to a military tribunal on a secure military base. (Hey, there is one in Guantanamo. How about that?) The Times reports:

Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would block financing for civilian trials for those accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, and Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said he would introduce a parallel bill in the Senate next week.

Mr. Graham, an experienced military prosecutor who has long argued that foreign terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants, proposed a similar amendment in November but it failed to pass the Senate by 54 to 45. He said he believed the same measure could pass today.

This would be a monumental admission of error by Obama and, more importantly, by his attorney general, who assured us all that this would be a slam dunk, a safe and pain free proceeding. Now that Obama has lost his mystical powers to silence his own party, the truth is seeping out: this is an expensive, dangerous, and entirely unnecessary deviation from historical practice. Obama is colliding with reality.

On Guantanamo, the KSM trial, and the Mirandizing of the Christmas Day bomber, the public and a congressional bipartisan consensus are taking the lead. The Obami’s leftward lark on national security, I suspect, is about to end. The Bush-era policies have been vindicated by none other than Obama, who proved the alternatives to be unworkable, foolish, and politically untenable. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney must be smiling broadly.

Read Less




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