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Old     (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-04-2010, 11:31 AM Reply

Obama's anti-terror policy is a mess

Washington (CNN) -- It took the United States government 18 months to capture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- and seven years to figure out what to do with him.

The Bush administration wanted to try the organizer of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks before a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration rejected that plan and decided instead on a civilian trial in federal court in lower Manhattan.


New York officials balked: The trial would snarl traffic, impose huge security costs on the city and incentivize terrorists to strike again while world media were conveniently concentrated on the spot.

The public balked too. Even in liberal Massachusetts, voters have rallied to the Republican anti-trial message. Scott Brown's campaign hammered the theme: "Our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop terrorists, not lawyers to defend them."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's opposition and Scott Brown's victory have upended the administration's plans.

So now it's back to the drawing board.

The Obama administration is stuck in a mess of its own making. It has tried to trace a middle path between the clear logic of the civil liberties left and the Bush right.

The left says: Terrorists are criminals. Period. Read them their rights and give them a full constitutional trial. If you have secret information that cannot be used in open court -- too bad. If you cannot convict them, let them go.

The Bush administration answered: al Qaeda is a paramilitary force organized to commit atrocities against American civilians. They are not ordinary criminals. They are war criminals, just like the Japanese commanders who starved American servicemen on the Bataan death march. Those commanders faced military justice that protected fundamental human rights. But they were not brought to the United States and accorded all the extra protections of the U.S. Constitution.

The Obama administration has split the difference. It says it will assign terrorists on a case by case basis, sending some to civilian courts, others to military tribunals.

This seems to offer the worst of both worlds. From a civil liberties point of view, it is worse than the Bush policy. The Bush administration worked its way to a policy of military tribunals for non-citizen terrorists. You can dispute the principle, but you can at least understand it.

The Obama policy follows no such intelligible principle. Terrorists against whom the administration has a strong public case will go to federal civilian court; terrorists against whom the public case is less strong will go to military tribunals. What kind of way is that to run a judicial system?

And from the national security perspective of the right, the policy is equally bizarre. If you want to build a federal case against an accused terrorist, you have to follow federal criminal rules from the beginning: that's why the Obama justice department read a Miranda warning to the underwear bomber. But following federal criminal rules means closing our ears to valuable information. As soon as the underwear bomber got his Miranda warning, he stopped talking.

We send criminals to court because we want to punish them. But with terrorism, punishment is a secondary concern. Our top concern is prevention.

By failing to interrogate the underwear bomber exhaustively, the Obama administration failed to do all that is possible to protect the country. They closed their ears to potentially useful information. The underwear bomber may divulge more later. But information loses value by the day, sometimes by the hour. Later may be too late.

The mishandling of the underwear bomber was embedded in the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court. If the Obama administration had adhered to prior decisions on military tribunals, it would have left itself room to handle the underwear bomber more responsibly.

And yet this mishandling of the underwear bomber will buy them very little goodwill from their domestic and international left. The Obama administration will continue to hold some terrorists indefinitely without trial. It has left the door open for military tribunals for others. As a result, it will receive almost as much criticism as the Bush administration -- while taking many more risks with the lives of Americans.

President Obama's admirers often compare him to Ronald Reagan. Here's something he can learn from Reagan: how to liquidate an embarrassing policy commitment.

In the late 1970s, conservatives opposed Jimmy Carter's Panama Canal treaty as intensely as liberals denounced George W. Bush's detention policies. The treaty returned the Canal and the Canal Zone to Panama over a period of years. To conservatives, it symbolized American retreat post-Vietnam. Ronald Reagan's passionate opposition to the treaty helped him secure the Republican nomination in 1980.

Yet by the time Reagan gained the presidency, the treaty had become less bothersome. Reagan's election in itself signaled that the period of retreat was over. Beyond symbolism, the Reaganites recognized that the Canal had already lost much of its military utility: It was too narrow to accommodate modern aircraft carriers.

The treaty had gained the United States great goodwill in Panama -- helping to insulate Panama against the left-wing insurgencies that raged elsewhere in Central America. Quietly and deftly, Reagan tip-toed away from the issue.

It's time for Barack Obama to do the same with his most ill-considered pre-election commitments -- with counter-terrorism policy at the head of the list.
Old     (bendow)      Join Date: Sep 2005       02-04-2010, 11:44 AM Reply   
First of all, I can't believe this is coming from CNN, but I'm glad it is. It shows a lot.

2nd, this issue starts a fire in my belly. Thinking that these terrorist are being afforded civil liberties of a court appointed lawyer is absolutely atrocious. Obama is a complete and utter failure in every area IMO, except being a good public speaker...he's good at that. It would be great if we had an island safe from the US population to try these terrorist in a military tribunal...oh wait!!! WE DO!!!
Old     (wakeworld)      Join Date: Jan 1997       02-04-2010, 12:04 PM Reply   
Ben, you're being too hard on Obama. During the campaign he promised to get a dog and, true to his word, he did get a dog. Sometimes we focus too much on the negative and forget about the positives!

Actually, I think calling what this admin is doing with terrorists a "policy" is probably quite complimentary of CNN.
Old     (zo1)      Join Date: Aug 2002       02-04-2010, 12:27 PM Reply   
^^^ Lol...
Old     (bendow)      Join Date: Sep 2005       02-04-2010, 12:30 PM Reply   
Dave, incase you forgot, Obama promised to adopt a dog. Ted Kennedy gave "Bo" to the Obama' I still stand by my statement that Obama is a failure in every area to include getting a dog
Old     (bg__dereks_mom)      Join Date: Aug 2009       02-04-2010, 12:32 PM Reply   
LOL you are so right.
Old     (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-04-2010, 12:35 PM Reply   
How they handled the underwear bomber IMO is a complete joke along with the 9/11 jacka$$. Should we be surprised when we are attacked again? Who should we be upset at????
We should be all up in our government letting them know these types of policies are NOT making us safe. Think our economy is hurting think what another 9/11 would do to our economy now. IMO now is not the time to go easy on these types.
A quote from the move Body of lies. "If your take your foot off the throat of our enemy's for even a second our world as you know it can change forever"
Old     (ttrigo)      Join Date: Dec 2004       02-04-2010, 1:28 PM Reply   
civil liberties should be reserved for american citizens only. these losers should have been hung at guantanamo a long time ago.
Old     (paulsmith)      Join Date: Mar 2002       02-04-2010, 1:38 PM Reply   
LOL at attributing this as a "CNN story." It's an opinion piece, people. What you're doing would be like assigning the views of Alan Combes or whatever that dude's name is to FoxNews. Moreover, it's an opinion piece by a former Bush Administration crony.

Editor's note: David Frum writes a weekly column for A resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, he was special assistant to President George W. Bush in 2001-2. He is the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again" and the editor of FrumForum.
Old     (mammoth)      Join Date: Apr 2005       02-04-2010, 1:56 PM Reply   
civil liberties should be reserved for american citizens only.

Agreed that this terrorism thing is complicated and F'ed up...but the idea that civil liberties are for US citizens only dangerous. Government was not established to create and grant rights, rather it was established to protect them.

This is a serious fundamental misunderstanding of your rights.
Old     (zo1)      Join Date: Aug 2002       02-04-2010, 2:02 PM Reply   
Government was not established to create and grant rights, rather it was established to protect them.


government, in no way shape or form, was created to protect rights of the people. All through time up until about 200 yrs ago, and including many governments to this day, government has been oppressive. If you changed your statement to "The American Government was established to protect rights not create them" the statement might be a little closer to being correct.
Old     (brettw)      Join Date: Jul 2007       02-04-2010, 2:04 PM Reply   
Playing Devil's Advocate, why exactly shouldn't terrorists be tried? Do you trust the government or CIA or whoever to just tell us who's a real terrorist or not? We try child molesters and murders who in some cases we know are guilty. Why not terrorists? If there's enough evidence that our government is sure they are terrorists, then a trial shouldn't be an issue. Why would 'innocent until proven guilty' only apply to some people/crimes?
Old     (mammoth)      Join Date: Apr 2005       02-04-2010, 2:13 PM Reply   
Manzo, we're basically saying the same thing. Your objection implies that the rights in question come from our creation and that historically, governments have trampled on those. In practice, I can agree.

So yeah, ostensibly, the U.S. government was established through the constitution to recognize that inalienable rights should be protected. Of course, it's easily arguable that this is also now out the window.

In any case, it's quite obvious that within the context of this discussion we're talking about the U.S. perspective on civil liberties and not historical authoritarian governments.

(Message edited by mammoth on February 04, 2010)
Old     (zo1)      Join Date: Aug 2002       02-04-2010, 2:17 PM Reply   
Fair enough, I just read your statement literally and not withing the context of this thread. My bad.
Old     (steezyshots)      Join Date: Feb 2008       02-04-2010, 2:17 PM Reply   
It may take a terrorist attack during the trial for them to realize they f'd up. Hopefully more politicians and government officials are targeted than innocent bystanders
Old     (mammoth)      Join Date: Apr 2005       02-04-2010, 2:19 PM Reply   
Why would 'innocent until proven guilty' only apply to some people/crimes?

Because as evidenced in this thread, even right here in the US people are indoctrinated so as to believe that all rights are really privileges that must be granted by Uncle Sam.
Old     (denverd1)      Join Date: May 2004       02-04-2010, 3:07 PM Reply   
I'm still shocked CNN put this out!
Old     (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       02-04-2010, 3:18 PM Reply   
ok, so let's walk thru this. i'm no lawyer but i play one on tv....

let's assume we get him to trial.
under our due process laws he was supposed to have been read miranda rights... he was not.
he's not supposed to have been "tortured" for evidence. according to obama... he was
There may not have been a warrant to obtain some evidence
He certainly wasn't given a "speedy" trial.
etc etc.

can you see how this could go....
case dismissed!

and then he's free to file a civil suit against the US.

Holder et al just didn't think this one through very well did they?
Old     (wakeworld)      Join Date: Jan 1997       02-04-2010, 3:37 PM Reply   
Who do you think will be "submitting" their resignation first; Holder or Geitner?
Old     (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       02-04-2010, 4:04 PM Reply   
I'm guessing holder because the administration is already trying to back-peddle in this terror trial issue. and you'll start hearing holder's name associated more and more with the decision...(instead of obama's)

on the other hand, they're still trying to trumpet a recovering economy.. not quite back-peddling from that one yet. a few more cycles of bad news on that front and he'll be gone too.
Old     (dennish)      Join Date: May 2005       02-04-2010, 4:15 PM Reply   
No reason to read the underwear bomber Miranda rights. We all ready have everything we need to convict him. We don't need anything else. But we can get a lot of information out of him to prevent future attacks. This information will not stop a conviction but will give us great intel.
Old     (baldboarder)      Join Date: Aug 2002       02-04-2010, 5:10 PM Reply   
To me the largest blunder is what the Obama Administration is not talking about. The on-going prosecutions of American Servicemen, Contractors, CIA, and the FBI by Holder is creating an atmosphere where the people who protect us are more worried about protecting their own jobs and freedom from incarceration than agressively going after terrorists. With more concern of terrorists rights and the public relations of countries who hate us than the people who protect us, we are going to get hit soon. Afterwards we will find out that we had the information or could have gotten the information to stop the attacks, but individuals who protect us were too afraid to come forward or investigate further for fear of being prosecuted by our own government.
Old     (bendow)      Join Date: Sep 2005       02-05-2010, 5:03 AM Reply   
^^^good point. We have Navy Seals being prosecuted because of a terrorists bloody lip???
Old     (wakemetoday)      Join Date: Mar 2006       02-05-2010, 10:08 AM Reply   
Whatever happened to common sense? I'll never understand this new fascination that has developed for protecting terrorists. Do the victims' families not have any rights?


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