Saturday, January 30, 2010

Terrorism Comes To New York City--Again?

For those of you who are not familiar with the landscape in New York City, you are looking at Foley Square, the center of legal activity in The Big Apple. The building on the left is the United States Courthouse where the Obama administration wants to try terrorists from top Al-Qaeda leaders down to the level of the Detroit-bound underwear bomber. Beautiful, isn't it? But how beautiful will it be if those trials actually go forward?

The Holder Justice Department is determined to hold the trials in New York City. Nobody can get a decent explanation of how this idiotic decision was made in the first place, but determined they are. Still, it ain't over 'til it's over. There has been a groundswell of public opinion against holding trials for mass murderers and wannabe murderers within walking distance of the hole in the ground that some of them created on September 11, 2001. And now, there is a growing rebellion against the plan in Congress.

John Boehner (R-OH), the House minority leader, on Wednesday announced that under no circumstances were the American people going to allow the terrorist trial to go forward in New York. "There is not going to be a trial in New York, I guarantee it. There is no appetite for the trials in Congress." He also made it clear that Republicans would make it a high-profile mid-term election issue, and that the people of the city of New York would not stand for it. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has introduced a bill denying Congressional funding for civilian trials for 9-11 terrorists, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has said he would introduce companion legislation in the Senate next week.

The nation is beginning to wake up to the issue that conservatives have been hammering at for a long time now. Why are terrorists being removed from Guantanamo at all, let alone removed from the jurisdiction of military detention and military courts and placed in the hands of civilian attorneys? At least part of this answer is attributable to Obama's campaign promise to close the Guantanamo detention facility, and he was still riding high on that promise when the decision was made. Since then, the idea of bringing terrorist defendants onto mainland American soil has lost considerable public favor. That was followed by the Christmas underwear bomber's failed attack on an airliner over Detroit, and finally by a miserable State of the Union Address.

Miranda rights, civilian courts, and terrorists in our midst by invitation of the government have lost their shine. Senate Republicans hammered Attorney General Holder during hearings on the Christmas bomber, and why after a half hour of successful interrogation, the terrorist was suddenly allowed to "lawyer up." Holder was simply unable to give the Senators a decent answer. The line from the Justice Department has always been that they can successfully prosecute terrorists in civilian courts (and point to the Moussaoui conviction as if that were the only consideration).

Terrorists should be held as long as necessary under the rules of war to obtain whatever information can be gotten from them, in as safe a place as possible (Guantanamo, perhaps?), and as far from urban civilian population centers as possible. They have no more legal status than any other prisoner of war, and less in that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to combatants in a battle zone who are armed and not in any recognizable uniform, whether caught fighting or not.

Once the decision has been made that the detainees are of no further use to intelligence services, and a trial becomes necessary, they are not entitled to anything other than a military tribunal, conducted under the rules of those courts (or the rules of the Nuremberg Trials, as far as I'm concerned), not the rules of civilian courts. In no way are they entitled to be brought into the United States proper for trial in a civilian court, whether the government believes it will gain a conviction or not.

The civilian concerns of the people are vastly more important than some political decision made by a very politicized Justice Department. Even if the Obama administration were justified in its decision, the United States, including its territories, is a very large country. Why New York City? Why hold the trial under the very noses of the friends and families of the 3000 innocent civilians who were murdered in the World Trade Center? Why invite the distinct possibility of further terrorist attacks by radical Muslims determined to stand up for their oppressed brethren? Why do it in the courthouse square of the city that is the heart of American commerce, so despised by the primitives? And why do it one of the most densely-populated cities in the world?

And even if moved from Guantanamo into the United States, we still have no legitimate answer for why the case is being taken out of military control and passed over to civilian control. There are military facilities all over the United States where the trials could take place. And if the Justice Department were to continue in its insistence on civilian trials, there is no reason to conduct it as a publicity stunt for Obama justice in New York City. Hold them in some far-flung village in the Nevada desert. Even Governor's Island in New York is not in the heart of urban New York City, and a temporary court could be set up there. There is no law requiring that trials be held in the traditional courthouse. I've conducted trials in makeshift temporary courts made from triple-wide house trailers.

Boehner's announcement came on the heels of a few very bad months for the Obama administration. The "Massachusetts miracle" cost Obama his supermajority in the Senate, and many blue dog Democrats are just as displeased about the Justice Department decision as are the Republicans. Statewide Democratic special election successes are going the way of the passenger pigeon. The House members are not unaware that this could happen to them next. Suddenly, a threat of Congressional action to halt the Holder/Obama decision becomes at least a serious threat rather than a mouse shaking its fist at the approaching eagle.

Though the Christmas bomber has now been Mirandized and placed under civilian rules, there is absolutely nothing to prevent the government from putting him right back into the custody of the Department of Defense as an unprivileged enemy belligerent. It's unlikely that Holder will do this easily or willingly, but now is facing that possibility because of the avalanche of criticism surrounding the earlier Justice Department civilian trial decisions. In fact, anyone who has been determined to be an Al Qaeda affiliate (like the Christmas bomber) has been specifically targeted by the Sessions Amendment to the federal law which makes it clear that any detainee who is "a part of Al Qaeda is automatically deemed an unprivileged combatant." The terrorists already scheduled to be moved to New York City have not yet been determined specifically to be Al Qaeda affiliates, but more than sufficient evidence of their terrorist activities doesn't require the niceties of the Sessions Amendment. The old law will do as well. Get them back to Guantanamo, where they belong, or at least keep them out of New York City.

Boehner's announcement now packs clout, particularly after the attempted Christmas airliner bombing, the Fort Hood massacre, and three three major Democratic electoral losses. The doctrinaire leftist Obama administration now meets public anger and serious political opposition. The very day of the State of the Union speech, Obama and his minions were rumored to be reconsidering their dangerous and mindless move. Though there are no substantiated rumors, particularly about transferring the terrorists back into military custody, there is at lest an inkling that the fools who consider terrorists to be simple criminals are considering conducting the trial(s) somewhere other than in a major urban center, and perhaps closer to a high-security prison.

UPDATE: Since the writing of this post, there has been a major development. New York Senator Chuck Schumer made a public announcement that the trial(s) would indeed be moved outside of New York City. The New York Daily News reports that the White House has "ordered" the Justice Department to find another venue. As is typical of the Obama administration, the White House has denied that it "ordered" the move, but rather that Senator Schumer and Mayor Bloomberg asked Obama to request the Holder Justice Department to move the trial. Who's in charge here? Nevertheless, the trial venue has not yet been officially moved, and the song-and-dance from the administration will undoubtedly still be going on at the time this post and update publish. If there is any change between now and then, I will do a second update. However, the main theme of the post hasn't changed, and it further emphasizes the point that Republicans, and the voices of the people most concerned with the original decision are no longer "irrelevant" to the decision-making process in Washington.

New York Mayor Bloomberg made a personal phone call to Holder, reversing his earlier agreement that New York could handle the trials, and six Senators from both parties have sent an urgent letter to Holder demanding that he seek an alternative. Even my own Senator Dianne Feinstein, not known for deviating from the party line, has joined in the protests. The New York Post on Friday also says the decision has been made, but still cites no specific White House or Justice Department official who is willing to go on the record. Rather, there seem to be admissions that they are (or may be) reconsidering their decision. This is the typical kind of affair that the Obamists like to drop on us on weekends when the press and TV are least likely to go on the attack.

30 comments:

BevfromNYC said...

According to the NY papers this morning, the trials are officially not going to be held in NYC. Holder is now considering other locations - West Point, Stewart AF base and...wait for it...wait for it...Camp Justice at Guantanomo Bay!

StanH said...

I wonder who’ll be the lucky city to be bestowed with the honor of trying KSM? If Barry had a brain it would be Gitmo.

BevfromNYC said...

As a NYC dweller and a Lower Manhattan worker, I have to applaud our Governor and Police Commish Ray Kelly AND the people of Lower Manhattan for raising holy hell! Gov. Patterson was always against the trials in NYC. Kelly explained honestly how the trial would effect the surrounding area at a public community meeting of residents and business owners. The res and bus owners in turn raised holy hell with the Mayor. Bloomberg finally came around. Gillibrand and Schumer our (hopefully soon to be ex) Senators finally weighed in when they realized that Obama was going cave. They didn't want to be on the wrong side of the issue. (Both are up for re-election this year)

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: I saw the early e-mail editions of The NY Times and The Washington Post, and I keep seeing words like "an official" or a "high-ranking source," but I still haven't seen anything that is actually official. Has anybody seen an actual official name within the White House or Justice Department who has said this? I'm sure this is all "softening us up" for the actual announcement, but I'm waiting for a real name and a genuine source. This is a typical Obama weekend move to avoid the embarrassment of one big avalanche of scorn he's about to receive.

I'm sure it's true, but I'm sick of the MSM doing Obama's P.R. for him.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: As I mentioned to Bev, I see this as another way of getting the public's mind off the idiocy of putting the trial in NYC, while getting everyone to speculate on where it will be held now.

But that's not even the underlying issue. We shouldn't simply all lean back and be relieved that the trial won't go forward there, we should be hammering these crazed fools about getting the trials out of the civilian courts entirely and back into the hands of the military.

They've suckered us into feeling relief for New York and the "where will they hold it now game" to distract us from the fact that there SHOULDN'T BE ANY CIVILIAN TRIALS FOR TERRORISTS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Writer X said...

It's really sad when the only time politicians (e.g. Schumer, Gillibrand, even McCain) agree with public opinion is when they feel that their jobs are on the line and/or when they're personally impacted.

It was amusing to watch Obama semi-throw Holder under the bus on this one. If public opinion had been for bringing the trials to NYC, Obama would have strut in and claimed all the credit. But like a slimebag, he waits in the shadows to see how the public reacts. Now he's puffing out his chest and "ordering" and "demanding." Please. So smarmy.

I wonder how long before Holder gets thrown under the bus.

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, LawHawk, you are correct. It is not official, but I can't imagine that the WH would float this trial balloon if it were not official. And if they backtrack now, the Democrats can kiss Schumer and Gillibrand's seats in the Senate goodbye! They were late enough at this party to begin with.

You are also correct that the fight is not over. Now we need to "double down" on our efforts to raise more holy hell for a change back to full military tribunal at Gitmo.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: In the military, this is called a tactical retreat. The real issue is "let's put terrorists on trial in civilian courts," so they're retreating from the battlefield of New York City so they can win the war somewhere else (like Phoenix or San Francisco).

What happened to us not falling for this kind of tactic and fighting on for the real strategy: Get these trials out of the civilian courts and back to Guantanamo (or somewhere like it) and try them in military tribunals.

Holder and Obama are buddies, but Obama is not above throwing even his close friends under the bus, so we'll see. Dumping Holder might also serve the purpose of fending off the rising tide of criticism and the pending hearings on the Black Panther voter-intimidation cases as well.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: That is what I was getting at. I'm sure the trial will be moved, the complicit MSM is simply paving the way for the official announcement. The chances of them going forward in NYC now are somewhere between zero and none. But they're determined to keep us distracted about the location of the trial so we forget the issue that there shouldn't be any civilian trials in the first place.

AndrewPrice said...

This is yet one more victory for common sense.

As a lawyer, let me point something out to Mr. Obama -- if these guys are entitled to receive Miranda rights, then ANY interrogation would be legally improper before they would have been "arrested" on the battlefield the moment they are captured. Since there is no doubt that they are suspects at that point, they would be entitled to Miranda.

That insane bit of logic is both accurate AND why it makes no sense to invoke criminal law for guys who are effectively enemy combatants.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Give me a cattle-prod and a waterboard and I'll bet I can get a "spontaneous utterance admission" faster than anyone can say "Miranda." LOL

People are under the impression that once these murderers are given their Miranda rights and turned over to the federal civilian authorities that it's over. Nope. They can be put right back into the custody of the military and hustled out of town and back to Guantanamo for indefinite internment simply by the stroke of an executive pen.

The other thing that bothers me is that the three Navy SEALs are charged and in the military court trial system for allegedly slapping a terrorist, but while we're debating where to hold the trials for the 9-11 terrorists, the simple fact is the terrorists haven't even been formally charged yet. That's a travesty.

LawHawkSF said...

UPDATE: As far as I can tell, this morning's New York Post is the first paper speculating that the trial will not only be removed from NYC, but moved back to Guantanamo for trial by military tribunal. But I caution everyone, it's still only speculation. Still, while I breathe, I hope.

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk: The first paper I read this morning was The Post. I was at my corner coffee place and I opened to page 4. I read the article and I wanted jump up and down and stamp my feet! (I did not though). NOW THEY COME TO THIS POSSIBLE CONCLUSION?!? And yesterday Obama denied being an "idealogue". This is what this whole issue has always been about. Not about logic or sound legal reasoning. It is pure ideology of the worst and most dangerous kind. Okay, I'm done ranting...

patti said...

this is one of those stories that makes me crazy. giving terrorists right's afforded citizens is treason in my book. but then again, i'm texan. we tend to think differently here...

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: For an ideologue, he caved in pretty quick to a reality that conflicts with his ideology (if the Post is right). LOL I think he's an ideologue who left his cojones at home.

LawHawkSF said...

Patti: I'm not sure that gross negligence and lousy legal theory rise to the level of treason, but they're certainly kissing cousins.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--Does Obama even know the difference between "listening to public opinion" and "drowning under a tidal wave of negative public opinion?"

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: Obama is deaf, dumb and partially-blind. It takes a tsunami to get is attention, and he has to be half underwater at that before he "gets it."

StanH said...

The scary news is these sophomoric punks “running” the country, simply don’t have a clue. This is quite dangerous when dealing with people that want to kill you, namely, Islamo-fascist. And the management difference between “W’s” team, and Barry’s…just wow! Mr. Bush, regardless if you agreed with him or not, was very professional.

When Barry said he wasn’t an ideologue, I spit a mouth full of coffee on the TV. Unbelievable BS!

BevfromNYC said...

Jeez, Obama can't even get "idealogue" right!

BevfromNYC said...

Well look what was dropped this weekend - I will withhold comment until I can verify whether this really from Newsweek -

http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/declassified/archive/2010/01/29/holder-under-fire.aspx

Tennessee Jed said...

A Modest Proposal: Let's try him on the Afghan/Pakistan border in winter. He can stand in the dock dressed only in his beard tethered to a bear baiting stake. Prosecutors, jury, witnesses and defense counsel will all be connected via satellite video link, e.g. no live people. There will be multiple cruise warheads and drones trained on site and then we can invite Bin Laden to come and spring him free.

Just a thought.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I can live with ideologues (as long as they admit they are ideologues, like me). I just can't live with ideologues who are ignorant and spouting an ideology that has been discredited for decades. Even civilian trials for enemy combatants isn't a new idea, but it took an ideologue like Obama to get us close to the brink of actually making it American policy.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: Please get back to us with the info on the Newsweek (Weaknews) article.

LawHawkSF said...

TennesseeJed: That won't work. Did you see those early pictures of Khalid Sheik Mohammed when he was captured? He has more hair than a polar bear. Since Osama bin Laden is a figment of our imagination, his spirit could yank Mohammed out of there without us even seeing it.

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk, so far the Newsweek blog article has only been posted on other blogs. I will keep us posted for when or if it hits the MSM.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: Thanks. But while we're waiting, I want to point out that even if the story has legs, it's not dispositive until Holder is gone and Obama policies change. Remember that the conscientious professional lawyers in the Justice Department had obtained default judgments against the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia for voter-intimidation. In the middle of the night, the Holder political appointees to the Department threw the whole thing out. Clearing Bush, John Yoo and the others at a professional lawyer level is one thing, getting it to stick with the politicized Holder appointees is quite another.

CalFederalist said...

Is that the same Newsweek where Howard Fineman said the State of the Union was "one of the most conservative speeches that a Democratic president has given?" or the Newsweek where editor John Meacham said "There were at least three moments where he expressed explicit humility?"

BevfromNYC said...

CalFed, yes, it is the same mag where Meachum said that Obama was "like a god" too. Or was that "like God"? I can't remember. Either way, it caused me to cancel my subscription.

LawHawkSF said...

CalFed and Bev: I haven't believed much of anything Newsweek reports since, well, ever. Except of course for their declining revenue and readership. LOL

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