Washington, D.C. – This week, while "the most traveled president in history" was on his latest foreign adventure and bowing to Japanese Emperor Akihito, the rest of the O-Team was been busy kowtowing to political correctness. The headlines tell the story:
• "Gates Condemns Leaks on Fort Hood Investigation"
• "Gates Says 'Shut Up' About Fort Hood"
• "Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Terror Trials in New York City for 9/11 Plotters"
• "Guantanamo Detainees to Illinois Prison"
All of these actions — the Gates outburst; the Holder decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 conspirators in Manhattan's federal court and the plan to transfer nearly 200 radical Islamic terrorists to a state prison in western Illinois — have been decried as egregious examples of political correctness run amok. Actually, coming as they did while President Obama was on a meaningless, ceremonial Asian junket, the "package deal for terrorists" is much worse than many imagine.
Secretary Gates' admonitions regarding Major Nidal Malik Hasan — now charged by the U.S. Army of murdering 13 soldiers and wounding 29 others at Fort Hood — have nothing to do with protecting the rights of the accused. His misplaced anger is directed at those in our military and defense and intelligence agencies who have justifiable concerns about radical Islamic militants conducting acts of terror on American soil. Inside the Obama administration, muzzling critics is now an accepted practice, even at the Pentagon.
The move to relocate up to 200 terrorists from the U.S. Military Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and house them in the nearly vacant Thomson Correction Center is a double-whammy for the O-Team. It assuages leftist elites in the U.S. and Europe who have been grousing about delays in closing Gitmo and serves as a multi-million dollar "stimulus" for Obama's home state.
Though Rep. Tom Latham, a Republican from neighboring Iowa, directly across the Mississippi from the Thomson prison, wants to introduce a "Keep Terrorists Out of the Midwest Act" to prevent the move, it is already a fait accompli. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin immediately endorsed the idea saying, "We should not let the unsupported and misplaced fears of a few stand in the way of this historic economic boost to our region."
Holder's decision to move the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi from the military tribunal system at Guantanamo to a federal courtroom in Manhattan — another sop to the global left — has generated the greatest heat in the media and on Capitol Hill. Notably, the announcement was made the same day that Holder revealed that other accused terrorists being held at Gitmo would be tried by military courts.
Most attention has focused on whether the accused can get a fair trial, how classified information can be protected in an open court and the possibility KSM and his cohorts might escape justice and go free. On November 18, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder dismissed the criticism saying, "I'm not afraid of what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has to say at trial — and no one else needs to be either."
Obama went even further, telling reporters covering his Asia trip: "We'll convict this person with the evidence they've got, going through the system." That statement alone will undoubtedly be used by KSM's lawyers to prove that he cannot get a fair trial just blocks away from Ground Zero where the World Trade Center towers stood before the 9/11 attacks.
Unfortunately, nearly all of the comments and commentary miss the point. The real reason why we should all be concerned about the Fort Hood massacre, moving terrorists to U.S. prisons and show trials in New York is because there are undoubtedly other Nidal Hasans here in the U.S. The media circus in New York and Illinois will go on for years, inviting radical Islamist "sleepers" and "lone-wolves" to attack.
It has happened before. In 1987, coincident with extraordinary media coverage, an Abu Nidal terror "sleeper cell" in Northern Virginia was ordered to assassinate a U.S. military officer. The terrorists –- all legally in the U.S. — were in the employ of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi.
Thankfully, the FBI detected the "hit" before it could be carried out and the officer and his family were rushed out of their home and sequestered on a military base until a full-scale U.S. government security detail could be organized to provide 24/7 protection for them at their home and wherever family members went.
Nobody has yet asked how many judges, prosecutors, prison guards and jurors will require such protection as a consequence of these decisions. They should. Otherwise the actions taken this week by the Obama administration won't just be labeled as political correctness, it will be called political suicide.
— Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel and the author of "American Heroes."