Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Speaking of bad staff work....

My previous post highlighted some bad advance work by Charlie Crist's staff. Now for some bad staff work from the Obama camp. In an interview with ABC News Obama made the following comment:

[I]t is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States, but we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. And there has been no evidence on their part that we can't.

And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks -- for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, "Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims."

So that, I think, is an example of something that was unnecessary. We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws. [Highlighting added.]
Ann Althouse examines part of this statement and parses out the wiggle room for Obama. She also states, "Someone needs to push Obama with follow up questions."

Certainly someone should! He should also be grilled about his misstatement of facts. In the highlighted portion above, Obama states that "we were able to arrest those responsible [for the 1993 WTC bombing], put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated."

However, not all of those responsible for the 1993 attack were put on trial. Our legal processes let the FBI catch and then release one of the suspects, who then fled the country. ABDUL RAHMAN YASIN remains on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. So Yasin is NOT incapacitated in a US prison.

Another problem with Obama's example is that all of the principles in the 1993 bombing were already in the USA. How exactly was the legal process supposed to deal with bin Laden or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? The Afghan government wasn't going to extradite them. The legal process could not handle that problem at all.

At the very least Obama's statement is factually incorrect and represents an incomplete policy for handling terrorists who attack the USA.

[Added: There are other problems with dealing with terrorists in a strictly legal manner. One problem is that some terrorists will, by legal procedure, end up imprisoned in other countries. This means we will have no responsibility or authority for keeping them imprisoned. The al Qaeda suspects that escaped from a Yemeni prison a couple of years ago are an example of what can go wrong.]

[Hat tip to Professor Althouse.]

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