Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Latest GOP Duplicity: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

As we all know by now, last week Attorney General Eric Holder decided to give (you all know the phrase) "accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed his day in civilian court. As was to be expected, the GOP is on the attack. Here are some of the things they are saying about the dangers of not trying KSM in our esteemed military tribunals:

"Mohammad is a terrorist--is alleged to be a terrorist. ... The United States court system was not designed to handle unlawful enemy combatants."

"It represents a historic change in how we treat those who are at war with the United States. It is going to create a lot of complications once we are at trial."

--Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

"I don't know how you can make a statement that failure to convict is not an option, when you have got juries in this country. I think a lot of Americans thought O.J. Simpson ought to have been convicted for murder rather than be in jail for what he is jail for now... I'm a farmer not a lawyer but I just want to make that observation."

-- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

"... a perversion of the justice system."

--Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, in an interview with NBC, said the administration's decision to turn to the civilian court system "may be a new level of repudiation" of the notion that the United States is undertaking a war on terror.

-- AP, Giuliani against trying Mohammed in civilian court

"The president is unilaterally ending the war against terrorism and returning us to a pre-September 11 law enforcement regime. ... Because the trials will take place in federal court. The president is conferring Constitutional rights on enemy combatants who are not entitled to Constitutional rights."

-- Rep. Peter King (R-New York)

"The reality is, we are breaking precedent here. ... The reality is, he would get a fair trial there (in a military tribunal). A case like this, the government is put on trial. The more exciting headlines will be the headlines against the government. The headlines will be, '180 Waterboardings. The CIA did this terrible thing and that terrible thing to me.' Some of it will be lies and some of it will be true."

"It's a political decision because I believe this is being done to satisfy left-wing critics who all during the last two or three years have campaigned against these military tribunals."

-- Rudy Giuliani

But, of course, despite what Republican critics want you to believe, trying KSM in federal criminal court is not breaking with US precedence. The original World Trade Center bombers were tried in those same courts. Those courts have also tried and convicted Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, Richard Reid, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, Jose Padilla, Ali Saleh al-Marri, John Walker Lindh, Masoud Khan, and hundreds just like 'em. And, oh yeah, Zacarias Moussaoui (you remember the phrase), the convicted 20th September 11 hijacker, was tried in Virginia back in 2006, which started under Ashcroft's watch (hmm ... "new level of repudiation" there, Johnny?). I wonder what some of those same people said after the latter's trial:

"[The White House] probably thought it might be good to try this one in public."

-- Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

"Today's verdict is a small but important piece of justice. Mr. Moussaoui's punishment is proof that our society is grounded in the liberating power of justice and the rule of law, which are our most valuable weapons in the war on terror."

-- Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tennessee)

"At times, this has been a maddening experience. The testimony of the defendant was deeply offensive, but through it all the victims have triumphed over the terrorist rants."

-- Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty (W. Administration)

"No, he will be pretty much locked by himself for the rest of his life, which, I think, he deserves, if anyone does. No, this is not an easy sentence by any means. I do think, again, in the sense of justice, that a death penalty was more appropriate."

-- Rep. Peter King (R-New York)

"I testified in the penalty phase of the trial. And it was much more difficult than I thought it would be, reviewing all that, going over it, seeing the films of it.

"And, you know, obviously I'm personally involved in this, but I would have preferred a different verdict. But it does show that we have a legal system, that we follow it, that we respect it. And it is exactly what is missing in the parts of the world or a lot of the parts of the world that are breeding terrorism.

"So maybe there is something good that can come out of this in showing these people that--at least showing the ones that have any kind of an open mind that we are a free society, a lawful society, a decent society, that we have respect for people's rights and that we can have disagreements about whether the death penalty should be imposed on somebody like Moussaoui.

"I think it should have been. I've been a lawyer more of my life than anything else. And I respect a jury's verdict. I sat in front of this jury for about three or four hours. They look like very, very careful and very decent people. And I am sure they did the best they could."

-- Rudy Giuliani

So, let's see, when the Bush administration decided to try Moussaoui in our federal courts, during the very height of "The War on Terror," these Republicans were not up in arms. Ashcroft and Gonzalez (who is also apparently criticizing Holder) initiated these criminal proceedings on this "enemy combatant." Giuliani actually participated in the trial itself. Some, like Giuliani and King, were disappointed that ZM wasn't given the death penalty. But many Republicans, including Giuliani again, considered this civilian verdict was a victory of American jurisprudence and American society as a whole. But now that the Obama administration is pursuing the exact same track that W. went down, America faces the gravest danger we have ever faced!!! All brought about by this rogue President and his AG!!!

Now, Giuliani, who is being accused of flip-flopping, is defending his newfound stance (watch the interview below), saying that there weren't military tribunals during the first WTC bombers trials and that the Supreme Court had declared military tribunals unconstitutional in 2006--which was why he participated in the Moussaoui trial. Well, Rudy, maybe your memory's a little cloudy, but the Supreme Court told the W. administration that they needed to rework the tribunals in June 2006; the Moussaoui trial concluded in May 2006. You weren't complaining about Moussaoui's trial venue any time before then or since.

Hmmm ...

Now, look, it's not as though Republicans are the only politicians who change their positions depending on who is in power. In 2004, Massachusetts Democrats voted in a law to strip the governor of the power of naming a replacement to the US Senate. They thought Dem. Senator John Kerry may win the Presidency, and they didn't want Rep. Governor Mitt Romney to have the power to replace Kerry's seat with a Republican. With Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, they repealed the law, knowing that Dem. Governor Duval Patrick would replace the Dem with another Dem.

It's all normal. It's called "playing politics." It's just ... shall we say, queer that the GOP, the party that portrays itself as the True American Patriots, the party that constantly claims that they are the party to "keep America safe," and who feel that this War on Terror is the gravest, most dangerous threat facing our country today, is so ready and sooooooo willing to play politics on this issue.

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