Published January 05, 2010
President Obama’s team has scared the nation over the past week with pronouncements so crazy they leave you breathless. But worse still are the decisions they’ve made, decisions that show America is in danger, and that those charged with protecting us are failing to treat this life-and-death struggle as the war that it really is.
First, after a terrorist attack was thwarted only by a detonation malfunction and brave airline passengers, a blissfully-clueless Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told an incredulous nation that our “system worked.” That comment was so absurd that no further comment is necessary. She should have been forced to resign within hours.
Lest we think it was a mistake, however, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs—whose incessant missteps betray an ineptitude so self-evident that it’s amazing he’s lasted an entire year—parroted Napolitano’s assurances that we shouldn’t worry, because their sterling performance shows us that our security system works great.
The fact that these two senior administration figures were spouting the same ridiculous line—“Move along. Nothing to see here. Everything’s fine.”—means that the top White House staff decided on that coordinated message. That means Obama’s brain trust—Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett—agreed to try selling that line to the American public.
You should feel insulted that they’d even try.
But the worst words came from the president himself. First is “allegedly.” President Obama said that Nigerian Islamic terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab “allegedly” tried to blow up an American airliner to kill hundreds of Americans You use the word “allegedly” if you’re in the media or if you’re prosecuting a criminal, not referring to undeniable acts of war.
The second is that Obama labeled this terrorist act an “isolated extremist.” We know that: (1) he’s affiliated with Al Qaeda, (2) he had help getting onto the plane, (3) he carried military-style high explosives that were likely prepared for him by experts, and (4) was in contact with the same radical Muslim imam who encouraged the Fort Hood terrorist. There are also reports that there may have been an accomplice on the plane. To call him an “isolated extremist” in the face of such facts willfully ignores the obvious truth that this was a coordinated terrorist attack.
And third is the longstanding criticism that Obama does not allow his administration describe what we are involved in the "War on Terror." They speak of "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan—usually with a gratuitous slap at George Bush or Dick Cheney—but not the fact that America is in a global war with Islamic jihadists.
What do these words tell us about President Obama? We need only consider his actions, which are perfectly consistent with his words.
He’s ordered the Christmas bomber to be treated as a criminal defendant in our domestic law enforcement system. That means he’s presumed innocent and protected by every provision in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments in the Bill of Rights, including all the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
One of those rights is the right to legal counsel. As a lawyer, if I were the court-appointed attorney for Abdulmutallab, the first thing I would tell him, “You have the right to remain silent. So shut up. Don’t tell anyone anything, except me. We’ll let the Feds know that you have things you could share, and that they’ll have to offer you a pretty sweet deal if they want to get a peep out of you.”
We should all feel for Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan, who had to go on the Sunday morning talk shows and suggest that somehow this decision to put the bomber in the civilian system was for our nation’s benefit. -- America gets nothing out of that deal. There’s no trade-off. There’s no advantage.
Everything we can do in a law enforcement setting, such as using the FBI for investigation and interrogation, can also be done with someone held by our military for acts of war. We can use every tool of national power when acting against our wartime enemies.
Since he wasn’t wearing a uniform, Abdulmutallab is not even covered by the Geneva Conventions or entitled to prisoner-of-war status. Obama could simply have him executed without a public hearing as a foreign saboteur, the way Democratic President FDR did to Germans we captured on U.S. soil in 1942. (A decision which was upheld after-the-fact by the Supreme Curt in "Ex parte Quirin.")
By contrast, our hands are tied when we’re dealing with a criminal suspect.
This is the same mindset that brings known terrorists to New York City for civilian trials. It’s the same mindset that says we must close Gitmo and put these terrorists in federal prisons.
It’s the same mindset that this nation had the day before 9/11. It’s a mindset that refuses to accept that we are at war, that the Bill of Rights is a unique set of protections intended for American citizens in our own country, and that our president must use every power granted to him under Article II of the Constitution to defeat our wartime enemies and protect this nation.
Instead, the words that we’ve heard from our president and his team over recent days—words confirmed by actions—tell us that this president refuses to confront the seriousness of the dangers we face.
The president’s job is to use every tool he has to protect us. We are being ill-served by our commander-in-chief.
Ken Klukowski is a fellow and senior legal analyst at the American Civil Rights Union. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.