The indescribable nightmare that Obama is imposing on America—and I don’t mean the health care bill

(Note: Bill in Maryland argues that before the election of Obama I said, “Bring It On,” and that now I am expressing horror at what Obama is doing, and therefore I am contradicting myself. I reply.)

Dear readers, I am sorry not to be providing any season cheer at this website, but the truth is that numerous unprecedentedly bad things are happening all at once. One of them is the Obama administration’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York City. Rep. Michele Bachmann and Andrew McCarthy join forces today in an article at National Review laying out further nightmares that will result from this evil decision and urging as strongly as possible that Congress take action to reverse it.

Congress Can Stop the KSM Trial
If the president will not reverse himself, Congress should.
By Michele Bachmann & Andrew C. McCarthy

There is no justifying the Obama administration’s decision to grant a civilian trial to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 plotters who carried out the deadliest act of war ever committed on U.S. soil. The president must not grant the worst of war criminals the same constitutional rights enjoyed by the nearly 3,000 U.S. citizens they massacred on 9/11. If he won’t reconsider, Congress must act.

Beginning in the Revolutionary War, it has been recognized throughout our history that wartime enemies are not mere criminal defendants. When they commit provable war crimes, they are tried by military commission, a process that permits them fewer rights than a civilian trial while shielding more national-defense information from disclosure to the enemy.

As the Obama administration concedes, we are a nation at war. After the 9/11 atrocities, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of military force. In 2006, at the urging of the Supreme Court, Congress put the military-commission system originally ordered by President Bush on firm legislative footing. The Obama administration not only acknowledges the validity of this system, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the bombers of the U.S.S. Cole (who murdered 17 members of our Navy in October 2000) will be tried in it, even though this attack is the subject of a pending civilian indictment.

When he was first captured in Pakistan six years ago, KSM sneered that he expected to be brought to New York and given a lawyer. Instead, he was treated as an enemy operative, interrogated by the CIA, and induced to disclose intelligence that saved lives.

Yet the Obama administration, after eleven months of unnecessary delay, now proposes to void the commission and transport the jihadists from the remote security of Guantanamo Bay to the stage KSM has always craved: federal court in Manhattan. There, KSM & Co. will be swaddled in the protections of the Bill of Rights and given a soapbox from which to mock their victims and our country. And that will happen only after they are given a year or two to rifle through sensitive government files during the civilian discovery process. In fact, representatives of these “defendants” have already announced that they now plan to plead not guilty so that they can exploit civilian legal procedures to put America on trial.

Now not only are we saddled with the relative leniency of the civilian legal process—civilian juries have failed to impose the death penalty in the country’s last two capital terrorism cases—but we also face the likelihood that KSM will seek to represent himself, as he did in the military commission. Why is that important? In military court, we had the capability of imposing on accused war criminals a military defense lawyer with an appropriate security clearance. Terrorists might have opted not to use these lawyers, but they had to accept them if they wanted their defense to have the benefit of access to relevant classified information. By contrast, in civilian court, a defendant has an absolute right to represent himself, a right the Supreme Court has long upheld. If the terrorists make this demand, they will have a very strong argument that civilian due process requires that they be given direct access to our intelligence.

The last time al-Qaeda was in Manhattan’s federal court for a trial, one terrorist attempted to attack the presiding judge in the courtroom, and another maimed a prison guard in an escape attempt, stabbing him through the eye while attempting to abduct his taxpayer-funded lawyers during a trial-prep session.

Furthermore, while incarcerated in our civilian prisons, terrorists have a history of plotting, inspiring, and orchestrating acts of terror. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was planned in New York’s Attica prison, as were related plots to kill political officials and a judge. Osama bin Laden has publicly credited the notorious Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, with issuing the fatwa approving the 9/11 attacks from the U.S. prison where he is serving a life sentence. Sheikh Abdel Rahman’s attorney was herself convicted for helping him communicate with his Egyptian terrorist organization. Following Abdel Rahman’s commands that they make efforts to free imprisoned jihadists, his followers have carried out murderous attacks, including one in Luxor, Egypt, in which 57 tourists were killed.

Perhaps worst of all, the Obama administration’s decision to grant KSM & Co. a civilian trial betrays the civilizing imperatives of humanitarian law. For centuries, the laws of war have strived to protect civilians by rewarding combatants with benefits for confining their attacks to military targets. Yet, the Obama administration is giving the Cole bombers a military commission while the 9/11 attackers, who murdered civilians in addition to attacking the Pentagon, get the gold-plated due process of the civilian courts. This is simply perverse.

President Obama must reverse this reckless decision. If he fails to do so, the people’s representatives must explore their options. The Constitution grants Congress control over the jurisdiction of the federal courts: Our lawmakers have the power to restrict enemy combatants to trial by military commission for war crimes. Through the power of the purse, Congress can deny funding to transport enemy combatants into our country and to try them in our civilian courts. The civilian trial of KSM and the other 9/11 plotters does not have to happen, and we should make sure it doesn’t.

—Rep. Michele Bachmann is a member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

- end of initial entry -

Bill in Maryland writes:

You wrote:

Dear readers, I am sorry not to be providing any season cheer at this website, but the truth is that numerous unprecedentedly bad things are happening all at once. One of them is the Obama administration decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York City. Rep. Michele Bachmann and Andrew McCarthy join forces today in an article at National Review laying out further nightmares that will result from this evil decision and urging as strongly as possible that Congress take action to reverse it.

Are we missing the forest for the trees here? Obama’s actions are all direct consequences of his liberalism. The expectation in VFR prior to Obama’s election was that his actions as president would so discredit liberalism as to cause a conservative backlash. In October 15, 2008 you wrote:

… despite my total opposition to Obama, I .. have no intention of voting for McCain, though I will do so if I become convinced that Obama will cause grave and permanent damage to America, something I am not yet convinced he will be able to do. My position is: Bring It On. There are grounds to expect that the horror of a leftist presidency will result in a resurgence of true conservative resistance to leftism and thus will strengthen America, while a McCain presidency would be the final nail in the coffin of conservatism.

Obviously this is what is happening with health care (though it is arguable that the backlash is not “true” conservatism in the VFR understanding of the term). The trial of KSM in NYC, unlike the passage of Obamacare, will cause the maximum anti-Obama outrage with the minimum attendant long-term damage to America. According to the position stated above, we should welcome it, paradoxical though it seems to do so.

It has often been said in VFR, both by you and your correspondents, that to eradicate liberalism from American culture things will have to get worse before they get better. KSM’s civilian trial in NYC is an example of things getting worse.

LA replies:

You’re asking a fair question. There are several sides to this that need to be brought out:

(a) I have never said, whether in relation to Obama’s possible presidency or to any other leftist phenomenon, that I hope for bad things to happen. About Obama’s possible election I said, if bad things are to happen, let them happen, bring it on, and there are reasonable grounds to hope that some good things will result from this.

(b) The fact that I have had the hope/expectation that out of bad things, good things may result, doesn’t mean that I am glad when bad things actually happen. Bad things are bad. To be glad when a bad thing is done (in the hope that good will come out of it) would be immoral, in the manner of a Leninist. Did I rejoice when, say, Obama interfered in the arrest of Henry Gates in Cambridge and denounced Officer Crowley? Of course not, I was outraged, while, at the same time, pointing out that incidents like should be waking people up to Obama’s black racialism. Even more to the point, do I rejoice when whites are bludgeoned and murdered one after another by black predators? Of course not, I am horrified. But, according to your analysis of my position, because I have said that I hope that out of enough bad things, a good awakening will occur, I should therefore be happy when whites are killed and maimed by blacks. Which, again, would make me a monster.

(c) While I thought it was likely that Obama would govern as a leftist, I did not expect that his leadership would be as egregious as it’s been. I would not have predicted his bringing KSM to New York, for example. Remember, a part of Obama always seemed to be his desire to be liked by everyone. There were reasonable grounds to believe that his desire to be America’s beloved messianic first nonwhite president would soften his leftism. Not only has that turned out not to be true, but he has acted in a way to antagonize and polarize the country beyond what even pessimists might have thought prior to the election. So I am horrified and disturbed by the bad things he is doing, while at the same time I hope these traumas will teach Americans lasting lessons about blacks and nonwhites and liberalism.

(d) Also, I never said that it was certain that good things would result from bad. I said that it was possible. I also said that Obama’s presidency might well destroy the country, but that if we were to have such a president, we might as well have him now, while we’re relatively stronger, rather than later (i.e., after four years of McCain), when we would be much weaker.

Bill in Maryland replies:

Replying to (a) and (d):

But if Obama governs like a liberal (and I would argue that almost everything he has done as president springs from his liberalism) then bad things are bound to happen, whether we wish them or not. If Obama ruled like a liberal and everything improved, it would render problematic any indictment of liberalism.

Replying to (b):

There is a difference between the two examples: the Gates case embarrassed Obama but caused no lasting harm—a storm in a teacup; the second example—death of a victim of black violence—is something no decent person would wish to make a political point.

Note that I said, “The trial of KSM … will cause the maximum anti-Obama outrage with the minimum attendant long-term damage to America.” My point is that, though the trial will cause deep distress to families of 9/11 victims—in fact the prospect of it already has—it is unlikely to result in any wider damage to the country. But if it turns into a circus (as described in the McCarthy article) it will be the Obama/Holder circus, the Circus of Liberalism, for all to see. So it is in fact somewhere between your two examples in (b), and so the question is—should we oppose it and try to save liberalism from itself, as Bachmann and McCarthy propose, or should we let history take its course? How can the average American discover what is wrong in liberalism if it never gets to express itself?

LA replies:

While I have flirted from time to time with the idea or fantasy of doing a John Galt, of removing my mind from liberal America and not caring about it and letting it go to hell and get its just deserts, that has so far not been possible or desirable. Though I consider myself a dissident from the existing regime, meaning that I deny that it is a moral and constitutional regime, I am part of this country and when bad things are done to it they bother and threaten me as much as they bother and threaten anyone else. Maybe it’s just a matter of temperament. But I am, at least at present, unable to detach myself mentally from the society in which I live to the extent that you’re suggesting I should.

Also I don’t agree with you at all that the KSM trial won’t hurt the country. It would be deeply traumatic and demoralizing, not just to the families of the victims, but to all sensible Americans; more important, it would be so ugly, such a mess, such a nightmare, that it would add up to a huge attack on America’s confidence and spirit and thus serve the left’s and Obama/Holder’s purpose of breaking down America so that the left can more easily take over. I do not believe in conducting experiments in nation-wrecking to see if they will help or not. I oppose the evil. If the evil happens anyway, and if good results obtain (e.g., a strong reaction against Obama), then fine. But I do not seek evil. I oppose it.

Also, as regards the contradiction that you see in my position, here’s another thing I said in October 2008 (repeating a point I had made repeatedly):

Yet I still say, Bring It On. If an Obama presidency leads newly empowered blacks to let it all hang out, there’s a chance white America will finally wake up to racial reality and start to reclaim this country. With Obama, there will be the horror, the horror, but also life or at least the chance of life. With McCain there will be no awakening at all, but only conservative acquiescence to a conservative-hating president, fueled by adoration for his effervescent sidekick. [Emphasis added.]

Horror, but also life or at least the chance of life. Thus, prior to the election, I was affirming that both sides of this paradox would be true. The very thing that you now say is a contradiction on my part (i.e., that I said Bring It On but that I am now expressing horror at what is happening) is not a contradiction, but the very nature of what I said an Obama presidency would be. Horror at the rule of America by an anti-American leftist president, AND the hope of new life and new resistance to leftism that might emerge out of this horror. If I followed your promptings and did not express horror at the KSM trial and the other Obama horrors going on, then I would be contradicting what I said before the ‘08 election. But, in fact, my statements now are completely consistent with my statements then.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 23, 2009 05:36 PM | Send

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