By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Having failed in his efforts to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, President Barack Obama has now compounded his problem by announcing that the September 11 plotters held there will be brought to the United States for trial.
No one, least of all the family members of those whose blood is on the terrorists' hands, wants them in this country. Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the American Airlines plan that was crashed into the Pentagon, called the prospective trial "a travesty."
Burlingame, who believes a military tribunal is the proper venue for such a proceeding, in a statement released to the press held out the likelihood of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed holding forth in open court, "mocking his victims, exulting in the suffering of their families, ridiculing the judge, his lawyers and the American justice system, and worst of all, rallying his jihad brothers to kill more Americans."
That the decision to bring the accused plotters to the United States was, according to some reports, announced publicly before the victims' families and key members of Obama's own administration were informed sounds a surrealistic note in an already bizarre series of events.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was even stronger in his condemnation of the administration's decision to bring the terrorists to the U.S. for trial.
"This misguided decision is based on the false belief that the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans in one day on U.S. soil are common criminals—not war criminals," the Kentucky Republican said, adding "There are needless risks from this decision: classified information can be inadvertently leaked, as it was in the first World Trade Center trial; our cities will face enormous security problems; and our communities will be potential targets for attack."
During the 2008 campaign the one place that both Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain were able to score political points against Obama was in the national security arena. They did this by playing up his youthful experience in such matters, having only recently been a member of the Illinois Legislature and having no meaningful foreign policy experience to speak of. The media mandarins who are paid to think deep thoughts on such matters solemnly explained this was of little import, that Obama had enough experience for the job and that he would most assuredly surround himself with serious and experienced people who would help him make the right decisions. Clearly, they were wrong.
Since the beginning, Obama has moved away from George W. Bush's approach to the war on terror, even going so far as to drop the phrase from the White House lexicon. He appears to prefer Bill Clinton's strategy, to deal with it as a matter for law enforcement rather than the U.S. military. It is foolhardy and dangerous to do so.
Say what you want about Bush: He made good on his promise to keep America safe from future terrorist attacks. Obama, thus far, has luck on his side but, as his dithering in public over what the proper strategy should be in Afghanistan also emphasizes, when it comes to fighting America's enemies he just doesn't know what to do.