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Nov 23 2009

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“Willful Denial”

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  • The killings at Ft. Hood and the trials for the September 11th co-conspirators crossed paths last week, perhaps unintentionally shining light on the Obama administration’s intellectual suppositions with regard to acts of terror; described best in the psychological term, denial – wherein a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.1
  • Recall how Team Obama has made use of substitutions to describe things as they would like them to be instead of how they are.
  • No complicated, vexing and dangerous “War on Terror” but rather malleable and neutral “Overseas Contingency Operations.” And those scary terrorist attacks that can come if the US is wrong just 1% of the time?  Now it simply the much more benign “Man-Caused Disasters.”  And since those kinds of things happen all the time, the harsh odds seem easier to accept.
  • That sense of willful denial is central to the intellectual underpinnings of a consciously different policy and approach to terror than that of the Bush administration. How else can you reconcile the decisions made by the Obama administration on issues of far reaching importance to the security of the United States in the last week?
  • On Thursday, Defense Secretary Gates announced two internal investigations into the Ft.Hood shootings that left 13 dead and scores wounded.  A good and sensible start.
  • But instead of looking at Major Nidal Hasan’s connections to Islamic extremists and outreach to known terrorists, the probes will focus in large part on how key psychological ‘warning signs” on Hassan were missed. The second, longer probe will be DoD-wide and investigate whether there is too much stress on our military mental health practitioners.
  • Have I missed something?
  • Speaking on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Judy Woodruff unintentionally summed up the Administration’s position best.  “There was a long pattern with Nidal Hasan that had nothing to do with his pre-occupation with Islam and his extremist religious beliefs.  It was just that [in his superior’s opinion]…he was not a good psychiatrist.”2
  • Did you get that? Hassan’s demonstrated extremism is but a side show to the central drama of Hasan’s psychological problems and bad professional performance. And that serves as a pivot for a more widespread evaluation into stress among mental health professionals DoD wide? Again I ask, are we missing something here?
  • Let us speak plainly. Hasan is a Muslim terrorist. And that – not his psychological challenges – is where we need to begin.
  • He was a devoted follower of Islam; he preached against American policy and US military involvement in the Muslim world. He progressively and proactively reached out to extremist clerics, not only for advice but for planning purposes in the development of financial transactions which we can safely assume fall outside the parameters of  a Ft. Hood bake sale.
  • He was already on the radar of intelligence types whose job it is to track threats to American security when he committed his terrorist act – pardon – “Man-Caused Disaster” – slaughtering his unarmed fellow soldiers as he shouted “Allah Akbar.”
  • Let’s be clear. Hasan should be interrogated extensively to better understand any networks or cells that exist in the US military or with civilian groups, and he should be tried and executed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for the wanton murder of comrades. We should be less concerned about his potty training or whether he was loved by his father.
  • As far as Secretary Gates, he and the nation would be better served by an investigation into whether “political correctness” with regard to Hassan’s disturbing pattern of behavior and the correlation to his extremist religious beliefs led senior officials to fear religious profiling more than potential terrorist acts.
  • Those results would probably be as disquieting as the actual Ft. Hood attacks, where common sense has been lost in an effort to be almost willfully ignorant of facts as they are discovered, to prevent any perceived sense of bias.
  • The same intellectually confused reasoning surfaced in Attorney General Holder’s decision to prosecute the September 11th co-conspirators in civil court – instead of military tribunals – only blocks from where the conspirators slaughtered nearly 3,000 innocent civilians in an epic “Man-Caused Disaster” eight years ago.
  • Democrats have hailed the decision as one that would restore the integrity of the US judicial system, as if it was in need of restoration.
  • But why the bias against military tribunals?  
  • A simple review of history would show that military tribunals have been part of American law since the founding of the Republic and the Constitution has suffered no grave deficiencies as a result.
  • No less a historical figure than General George Washington himself impaneled a military commission to rule on the spy, Major John Andre, who was caught in American lines in civilian clothes. Andre who was complicit in the treason of Benedict Arnold, was convicted and hanged.
  • And the Democrats’ beloved FDR had no problem with the establishment of a military tribunal to try eight Nazi agents in civilian clothes who were caught on Long Island in June 1942.  They were tried and executed.
  • Indeed, President Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus on American citizens stands as a greater sin against the intent of the Constitution. Yet, American jurisprudence endured.
  • So, why the fuss?
  • Meet Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was revealing in his support for Holder’s decision in saying that coming from a law enforcement state, it was important to show the world that the US could operate effectively in convicting the “criminals.”
  • “Criminals?” As if their crime were nothing more than a mafia Don caught in a union kick-back scheme, instead of the worst attack on the American homeland since the British burned Washington to the ground in 1814, and the worst casualty count since Pearl Harbor?
  • But this very distinction is crucial to understanding the prevailing liberal Democratic view of the War on Terror.  
  • Democrats and leftists believe that the 9-11 attacks were a law enforcement matter and not a war. Thus, anything short of a civilian court for the terrorists subverts justice, history of military panels be damned. Don’t believe me? Read statements by leading Democrats.
  • Back in 2004, Howard Dean refused to opine on a hypothetical trial of Osama bin Laden for fear of prejudging the case. Liberal financier, George Soros said, “The war on terrorism cannot be won by waging war…crime requires police work not military action.” In that context, is it hard to understand John Kerry’s statement in 2004 that President Bush, “rushed into battle”?3
  • It conjunction with this allergic reaction to the War on Terror, it would appear that Team Obama has profound self esteem issues with the world beyond our borders; it is in obvious need of the recognition, acceptance, status and appreciation that may come with complying with international criticism of US detention and prosecution policy.
  • That the sources of those criticisms are historically compromised –at best – seems not to matter at all in Obama’s awed genuflect to the world community.
  • But the view of civil court proceedings as superior to tribunals is made more complicated for the Democratic Left and Eric Holder since the US Congress passed the Military Commissions Act in 2006, specifically to try “illegal enemy combatants” such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM).
  • The Act was precipitated by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, and addressed the Court’s objections regarding the makeup of the military tribunals and their ability to act within a legitimate legal framework.
  • As an aside, the vote on the Commissions Act was another example of  Bush “legislative divisiveness;” the Act passed the Senate 65-34 and the House 250-170 where there existed only razor thin Republican majorities.  It is ironic indeed that Bush administration put together a genuine bipartisan majority on a matter of life/death national security, where Obama, with his current, vast majorities in Congress, can only wish that his ill-charmed health care reform effort could marshal such numbers.
  • Common sense would dictate that the Commissions are the only forum fit for the likes of KSM and his ilk. And indeed Holder will use the Commissions, but in his typically tortured logic, only for those terrorists who attack military targets, such as the USS Cole.
  • In case you missed it, KSM and his Islamic posse get a pass on the Pentagon dead from 9-11 because the raw, combined numbers from NY and PA and DC were overwhelmingly civilian. How’s that for grounded, sturdy reasoning by our nation’s “top cop.” And this, ironically, was the guy who was talking about American “cowardice” back in February.
  • But the cumulative effect of all this faulty and vacuous reasoning is to turn the War on Terror on its head. 
  • First, civil court creates a precedent for non-American terrorists to be accorded the full rights of American citizens.
  • Fly planes into buildings, kill thousands, and you get court-provided defense counsel and a bundle of rights that you would never have in your home country.
  • In a civil trial, evidence necessary to convict KSM and his associates may be classified and thus not available for use in an open forum. This may even mean that the US will have to charge KSM and his associates with lesser crimes, as direct involvement in 9-11 may require public airing of secret sources and methods.
  • Moreover, defense counsel for KSM will aggressively challenge all evidence that is provided, requesting that any evidence acquired through or remotely associated with the use of enhanced interrogation be declared inadmissible.
  • With the different standards for evidence and the ability to call and cross examine a wider range of witnesses, a civil trial becomes a vehicle to prosecute the War on Terror itself, and through that action, to expose and criminalize the conduct of America’s first line of defense that has kept the US safe from terrorist attack for the past eight years.
  • KSM will be the defendant, but it will be our protectors who will be on trial.
  • If you think that is troubling, imagine how motivated our Defense and Intelligence operatives will be to stick their necks out in the future after all this has occurred.  Obama policies have already had a chilling effect on these front-line soldiers. Their future enthusiasm may well be under assiduous control.
  • As the untold 9-11 narrative goes, KSM had intended to be on a plane that would land after ten other aircraft had struck their targets. At that time, he would make a grand statement to the world about American criminality. Now, Obama will give KSM that very stage a few blocks away from KSM’s grandest diabolical achievement. Osama bin Laden must be struggling between astonishment and jealousy.
  • Then there is the verdict.
  • Here there is intellectual and moral confusion in the Administration’s logic. Holder preaches the virtues of a civil trial as “fairer” to the “accused” and a triumph of American jurisprudence.  But Holder also said that he has no doubt they will be convicted. Isn’t the whole purpose of a civil trial to ensure that at least the fig leaf of acquittal is possible?  Those greater protections for the rights of the accused will produce a “fairer” result?
  • Therein lays the fundamental contradiction of Holder’s decision and in the entire decision making process that led to civil trials for those held at Gitmo.
  • What will the Administration do if KSM or his associates are found guilty of less than what they were charged with? Holder and others say that is not possible, but by their own definition, the civil trial has to make it possible.
  • The answer is found by returning to the underlying premise of Obama terror policies. KSM and his co-conspirators being found innocent or convicted of lesser charges is the only logical result if “enemy combatants” are simply “criminals” and a war against Islamic extremism requires nothing further than “law enforcement” action.
  • This is more than denial; this is willfully naïve policy, with grave consequences for the security of the United States and Americans everywhere.
  • It also dishonors the memory of those who perished through no fault of their own on September 11th.

1. Webster’s definition

2. News Hour w/Jim Lehrer, 11-19-09

3. New York Sun, 1-04.

 

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