The Obama administration’s first show trial for a violent Guantanamo Bay jihadi in a civilian court — a man who has never set foot in America — and endowing this enemy combatant with full citizenship-level Fifth Amendment rights is unraveling in the courtroom and putting America at risk.
It would be a laughable, “I told you so” moment if it weren’t so dangerous. Stopping these violent jihadis from killing Americans is the government’s job. The Obama administration is putting American lives at risk and jeopardizing the integrity of our legal system which was not designed to handle war crimes.
Dealing with violent jihadists on the worldwide battlefield is a matter for military not civilian courts. Matters as simple as chains of custody for evidence take on different standard when dealing with America’s civilian courts. Our soldiers are not law enforcement officers. They are paid to fight wars and break things, not read Miranda rights and put evidence in baggies on the battlefield.
To left-wing elitists like Obama, acts of terrorism are matters for lawyers not soldiers. Now the first of these Gitmo detainee civilian court trials has been delayed this week because the star witness was barred from testifying by trial judge Lewis Kaplan.
“Today’s decision to preclude Hussein Abebe from testifying in the case of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is a bad day for the U.S. Department of Justice and a terrible day for the War on Terror. Unfortunately, it was a bad day that was completely predictable,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former FBI Special Agent who currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “Attorney General Holder’s decision to turn intelligence operations into legal cases was always fraught with peril, and today the difficulty of actually executing this strategic change was made clear. The Department of Justice just lost a witness that they described as ‘a giant’ and will likely now have to litigate each and every piece of evidence they attempt to bring to trial.”
The most thorough assessment of the state of disarray surrounding this prosecution came from Andrew McCarthy, the former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney who successfully prosecuted Omar Abdel-Rahman — the blind sheikh who first tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. McCarthy says civilian due-process standards are crippling the government’s case.
From McCarthy’s piece in National Review:
“Ahmed Ghailani has confessed to bombing the U.S. embassy in Tanzania twelve years ago. As he explained to the FBI in a series of 2007 interviews, he bought the TNT used in the explosion. He even identified the man from whom he purchased it — a man who was subsequently located, who corroborated Ghailani’s confession, and who has been cooperating with American and Tanzanian authorities ever since. Ghailani also helped buy the truck and other components used to carry out the suicide attack.
“The two simultaneous embassy bombings — Ghailani’s in Dar es Salaam and a second, more devastating one at the American embassy in Nairobi, Kenya — killed at least 224 people. The bombings made Ghailani, then in his early 20s, an icon of the jihad. He strode al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan and bonded with fellow terrorists, including some who would later conduct the 9/11 attacks. In fact, Ghailani was so highly regarded that he was chosen to serve as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden himself.
“All of that should make Ghailani’s trial, which is slated to begin in Manhattan federal court this week, a slam dunk. It is, however, anything but. Once again, politics has trumped national security and common sense.
“The Obama administration has made Ghailani its test case to prove that the civilian criminal-justice system works perfectly well in wartime against enemy combatants — to show that we don’t need military commissions or other alternatives specially tailored to address the peculiarities of terrorism cases. The administration figured Ghailani was a safe bet. After all, the embassy-bombing case had already been successfully prosecuted once: In 2001, prior to 9/11, four jihadists were tried, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment (although the jury voted to spare the two death-penalty defendants).
“Yet, to prove its political point that there is no downside in vesting Ghailani — a Tanzanian national whose only connection to the United States is his decision to make war on it — with all the constitutional rights of an American citizen, the Justice Department has had to slash its case. DOJ is also finding that even more critical evidence may be suppressed by the trial judge. In short, the slam dunk has become a horse race, one the government could actually lose.
“The jury won’t be hearing about Ghailani’s confession. It has been reported that, because he was a highly sought and highly placed al-Qaeda operative, Ghailani was subjected to harsh interrogation tactics by the CIA after being captured in Pakistan in 2004. To be sure, no jury should be permitted to hear a coerced confession. That is not because an alien terrorist held outside the U.S. in wartime has Fifth Amendment rights; it is because a proceeding in which a person is forced to be a witness against himself does not meet rudimentary standards of justice. Nevertheless, we are not referring here to what Ghailani may have told the CIA under duress; we are talking about the confession he gave the FBI three years later. The FBI does not use the CIA’s controversial tactics.”
A judge has not only disallowed his confession to the FBI three years after Ghailani’s capture that was in no way coerced, but he’s delayed the case barring the corroborating testimony of the main witness whose name was part of that disallowed confession. The prosecution now has to decide whether to appeal.
We are not talking in this case about a perpetrator accused of robbing a liquor store. They’re trying a man responsible for the coordinated bombings of U.S. embassies killing hundreds of people. When the case evaporates, do we simply put him on a plane back to Pakistan to continue his violent jihad? Do we hold him indefinitely if he’s been acquitted? What damage would that do to the civilian U.S. legal system that Obama and his attorney general profess to care so much about?
Much more at the link of McCarthy’s assessment of the gutted case prosecutors are left with at the hands of President Obama and his purely political attorney general.
The naive (at best) decision to try this foreign jihadi in the American civil court system is another tough lesson in the consequences resulting from the incompetency of this administration as we head into the November elections and into 2012 beyond.
Obama chose to politicize these trials and like everything else this polarizing president touches, it’s backfiring politically because he’s so far to the left of the average American, he can’t see the rest of us anymore.
Congressman Rogers, also the highest ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Intelligence, suggests a different course borne of actual experience.
“I do not know what will happen with this particular case, but it should prompt us all to reconsider the administration’s broader law-enforcement first strategy. The correct lesson to take from today is that our law enforcement-first strategy is wrong, and it is destined to fail, and now it is actually failing,” Rogers said. “We need to pivot, while we still can, to an intelligence-first standing that prioritizes capturing and neutralizing enemy combatants.”