The terror trials for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 co-conspirators looms on the horizon, Hambali may be tried at the Prettyman building in Washington, DC – and the political debate still rages. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder decided to try them as common criminals with the full protection afforded to every American citizen. Most Republicans believe these terrorists do not deserve the full protections afforded to an average American – instead favoring the military commissions as the proper venue to try foreign nationals that are terrorists, plain and simple.
President Obama rode into office with promises of closing Guantanamo and restoring America’s standing in the world – through his image, his face, his brand. Not via the more traditional concept of American Exceptionalism.
The President and his band of merry men believe we are just one nation in a family of nations, and therefore must conform. It is akin to a high school student harassing mom for a pair of the hottest basketball shoes, just to be seen as “cool.” Being on eof the “cool” kids is not a strategy for success. It wasn’t a sustainable social model in high school, so there should be no doubt that it will fail in the real world. Yes, Obama and his administration persist.
What the Obama Administration does not understand – but the American people do – is simple. We are capable of recognizing facts, distinguishing them from fiction and are prepared to stake our freedom, again and again. Because we are not one of many nations. We are a nation of people, of citizens. We live and die by the words in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution. It is our sons and daughters who go to war.
In Politico‘s Arena, I came across a recent post by former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. An absolute, spot on analysis of the facts at hand, not the politics. Just the facts:
Trying terrorists: some facts (co-authored with Bill Burck)
When it comes to trying terrorists on American soil since 9/11, let’s all work from the same set of facts. This morning we’ve heard three people in the Sunday shows talking about the “hundreds” of terrorists that we have tried in US courts and hold in US prisons – as if KSM was just some regular Joe terrorist. Some facts:
First, the only civilian trial of a 9/11 terrorist was Moussaoui who was arrested before 9/11 had even happened and before the President had authorized detaining terrorists as enemy combatants.
Second, Moussaoui had his trial while the entire military commission system was under sustained legal attack by left-wing lawyers, which put all military commission trials on hold. So he couldn’t have been tried by military commission back then any way.
Third, the trial was a circus largely because the defendant was uncontrollable and used the attention to spout hate against the US; the prosecutors were unfairly accused of misconduct, though the judge gave some credence to the accusations; and they couldn’t even get the death penalty even though he eventually admitted he was supposed to be the 20th hijacker. The Moussaoui trial is hardly viewed as a model of success.
Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, never had a trial, as he pleaded guilty. And his arrest was just one month after President Bush authorized detentions of enemy combatants – the system was still being set up. He also could not have been tried by military commission because of the left-wing legal assault on the system.
As for the “hundreds of terrorists” -that figure encompasses every type of terrorism charge DOJ brought in 8 years and have nothing to do with 9/11, nor were any of those people foreign terrorists captured overseas as part of the war on terror. Those terrorists were held at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants with the intention of eventually trying them in military commissions.
Perino & Burck offered extensive analysis at NRO, read in its entirety HERE.
My perspective is very simple. I am not an attorney, so I would not dream of speaking to the legal complexities. As a political communications person with a background in military affairs, I am pretty comfortable common sense has its place in this debate. Yes, I know these terrorists and detainees were not afforded a perfect life before, during or after their capture.
Were errors made? Of course.
Were there abuses? Potentially.
Should we separate CIA interrogators from military interrogators? Yes.
Should we separate clandestine operators from everyone else? Yes.
Should Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his 9/11 co-conspirators be treated differently than average grade terrorists? The barn door is open, the horses are gone. Let us be realistic about how and where to try KSM. Let us take into account the circumstances.
Is there an argument for locking him up and throwing away the key? Yes, but – we have to follow a real process. Either we believe in the justice system or we don’t. Of course, the Supermax facilities can keep us safe. Of course, attorneys and justices working at this level are competent. No, I do not believe AG Holder was correct to state we would have trials, then guarantee a verdict. It’s antithetical to our justice system. We must do better.
The American people simply must become more engaged and do the hard work of becoming good citizens. This is our country. We owe our founders, our ancestors and our children the best.
Foreign nationals who plot the mass murder of Americans should not be afforded the same rights and privileges we provide to our fellow Americans. KSM and his ilk are evil personified. They are not the same as a kid who commits armed robbery, or the average meth head. KSM embodies a specific and insidious type of evil. He did not plot the murder of 3,000+ Americans because he is a poor kid from the projects. (Don’t insult those kids)
KSM is not a poor kid with a drug addicted mom, who feels pressured to join a gang.
KSM is not a guy who got a little drunk and pushed his wife around.
KSM is evil. Not a man.
Neither KSM, nor his co-conspirators, are deserving of the second and third chances we afford our fellow Americans when they make personally catastrophic decisions.
There is no rehabilitation for KSM. He is not an American. He deserves nothing from us.
The argument in favor of affording him the same rights we give to our fellow Americans is tenuous and based on a preacher philosophy. “Gosh, if only we treat him nice and just like everyone else – he’ll understand we are all the same. We are all equal. America is good because America treats everyone the same. America is so nice because America doesn’t see any difference between KSM and a kid with an ounce of weed. It’s all the same, man. All we have to do is tell them how nice we are and show them how nice we are to men whose sole focus is genocide – then they’ll give us an exemption. Don’t you see?”
This mindset reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of evil, f our enemies – but more importantly, of what the American identity is. America is a great country because we expect individuals to live up to the ideals in our Declaration, in our Constitution.
I believe in real equality. Moral relativists seem to think their equivocations are the same as belief in Equality. They are not. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is not my equal. KSM is not the equal of Nancy Pelosi. KSM is not the equal of Dick Cheney.
KSM has no equal but evil. Therefore, his trial must be held in a court where the debate about good & evil occurs every day. Where men and women of good conscience live and die by this struggle. Military commissions serve this purpose. I know, I know… my liberal friends will be angered. The moral relativists will become enraged at the mere suggestion. But know this: the men and women on the front lines, they see evil every day. They see the goodness inherent in the hman spirit every day. God may or may not be in every foxhole – but the heroes who face these dangers are better equipped to judge KSM than a guy who experienced evil via television – or at a funeral – or by inhaling the chemical and burnt flesh smell emanating from Ground Zero.
Could you sit as a jurist at KSM’s trial and honestly separate yourself from the horror our nation experienced? Could you? If you were a fan of Daniel Pearl, would you be able to be dispassionate? Would you overcompensate – and acquit KSM because you feared retribution from Liberal commentators and anti-war protesters? Would you simply decide he was guilty on Day One?
Of course, most of us answer these questions the right way. That does not make it real.
Men and women in the military have to . Every day. That is how battles are won, how wars are won. How strategies are made. They do the job, they choose right – every day. This is why they are our heroes.
Because they are heroes. I trust them. Do you?