First Gitmo terrorist on U.S. soil

The Associated Press is reporting this morning that the Obama administration has brought the first of what will be many terrorists from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil to stand trial in a civilian court.

For all the blustering since Obama announced his plans to close Gitmo in January about the dangers of forcing these monsters to serve time on U.S. soil, that’s not the real problem. If the 245 Gitmo detainees retained their status as enemy combatants on U.S. soil, that’s fine. But this is a policy shift in more than where the terrorists live out their miserable lives.

The fact that the administration is looking to put them on trial in civilian courts proves the United States has shifted back to a pre-Sept. 11 mindset — back when we considered terrorism a crime and not an act of war.

From the Associated Press:

An official says the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be brought to the United States has arrived in New York.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the case, told The Associated Press that Ahmed Ghailani arrived in the early morning hours Tuesday.

He will be held in U.S. law enforcement custody until his trial in New York City.

Ghailani’s trial will be an important test case for the Obama administration’s plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo and bring some of the suspects to trial.

Ghailani was indicted in 1998 for the al-Qaida bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks which killed more than 224 people.

So blowing up two U.S. embassies and killing 224 people is now, again, a crime.

We can’t ignore the myriad of legal questions that still remain when it comes to exactly what to do with the Gitmo detainees and how to classify their status. But we also can’t ignore the fact that the strategy of treating terrorism as a mere crime failed miserably in the past.

Remember the first World Trade Center bombing, the embassy bombings, the U.S.S. Cole, etc. Our lackluster responses to those attacks did nothing to thwart al-Qaida or its surrogates from continuing their war against the United States.

Civilian trials will expose the CIA’s methods, not just in interrogations, but in intelligence gathering. Giving a defense attorney the ability to try, in open court, the CIA, the U.S. military and other special forces will only expose the methods our country uses to fight terrorism. What’s more, it makes a public spectacle out of them.

If our national mindset goes back to Sept. 10, 2001 and we return to that mindset and strategy, we’re only inviting more attacks. Osama bin Laden himself said that our initial response to the embassy bombings and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole proved to him that the U.S. was weak and open for attack.

The only stance the U.S. should have when it comes to terrorism is one on a war footing. The terrorists don’t mince words or actions — they know they are at war with us. To deny that fact is to admit defeat and invite more disasters — it signals our return to sleep.


If Reagan had spoken in Cairo

c47404-35aAlmost immediately after President Obama finished his address at the University of Cairo yesterday, talking heads began comparing our current president to our 40th — Ronald Reagan. You’d have to be drunk, high, comatose or all three to think Reagan would have delivered the same sort of lecture Obama gave.

Obama’s speech, titled with the broad platitude of “A New Beginning,” lacked the positive outlook, the strength, the focus and the soaring oratory to even compare to the Gipper. “Tear down this wall” it most certainly was not.

But let’s not ditter and even attempt to compare Obama’s speech to Reagan’s greatest hits (it’s doubtful Reagan would have given the same “Tear down this wall” speech had he been standing on the other side of the Berlin Wall).

On May 31, 1988, Reagan addressed students at Moscow State University, and he came with goals similar to those of Obama yesterday: To reach out to the people living in the Soviet Union as a friend, to denounce communism, to mitigate tensions and cultural misunderstandings and to reassert pressure for change.

Even ignoring the obvious policy differences the two presidents would have, Reagan’s speech, given the title “Moscow’s Spring,” is remarkably different from Obama’s in tone. Mainly because Reagan’s was positive throughout and, even more so, inspirational.

Where Obama continued to air regrets that the United States has committed mistakes in the past and not lived up to its true calling, Reagan included not one mention of America offending the Soviets.

Where Obama attempted to explain the differences on each side of every issue or complaint the Muslim world might have with the West, Reagan portrayed a consistently positive image of the United States and of freedom.

Where Obama depicted the American world view as morally equivalent with that of the Muslim world, Reagan gave his audience the reasons to reject communism and encouraged them to challenge their government to change.

Here’s Obama giving the Muslim world it’s excuses for hostility toward the United States (there are more examples at each interval of the speech):

The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars.  More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.  Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam. …

… just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles.  Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country.  The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. …

… In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.  Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.  This history is well known.

Reagan gives the Soviets no such opportunity for excuses. Standing below a large bust of Lenin, he makes a strong case for democracy, freedom and the American way of life.

I’ve been told that there’s a popular song in your country — perhaps you know it — whose evocative refrain asks the question, “Do the Russians want a war?” In answer it says, “Go ask that silence lingering in the air, above the birch and poplar there; beneath those trees the soldiers lie. Go ask my mother, ask my wife; then you will have to ask no more, ‘Do the Russians want a war?'”

But what of your one-time allies? What of those who embraced you on the Elbe? What if we were to ask the watery graves of the Pacific, or the European battlefields where America’s fallen were buried far from home? What if we were to ask their mothers, sisters, and sons, do Americans want war? Ask us, too, and you’ll find the same answer, the same longing in every heart. People do not make wars, governments do — and no mother would ever willingly sacrifice her sons for territorial gain, for economic advantage, for ideology. A people free to choose will always choose peace.

Americans seek always to make friends of old antagonists. After a colonial revolution with Britain we have cemented for all ages the ties of kinship between our nations. After a terrible civil war between North and South, we healed our wounds and found true unity as a nation. We fought two world wars in my lifetime against Germany and one with Japan, but now the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan are two of our closest allies and friends.

In the Democracy section of his speech, Obama said:

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people.  Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election.

Reagan makes no such assertion that America does not presume to know what is best for everyone. In fact, the goal of spreading democracy is based on the fact that we do:

But freedom is more even than this: Freedom is the right to question, and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuing revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows us to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions. It is the right to put forth an idea, scoffed at by the experts, and watch it catch fire among the people. It is the right to stick – to dream – to follow your dream, or stick to your conscience, even if you’re the only one in a sea of doubters.

Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority of government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put on this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer. …

Democracy is less a system of government than it is a system to keep government limited, unintrusive: A system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith. …

Your generation is living in one of the most exciting, hopeful times in Soviet history. It is a time when the first breath of freedom stirs the air and the heart beats to the accelerated rhythm of hope, when the accumulated spiritual energies of a long silence yearn to break free.

We do not know what the conclusion of this journey will be, but we’re hopeful that the promise of reform will be fulfilled.

Obama seems to have arrived in Cairo with a speech aimed at completing a shopping list — it was a lecture filled with caveats, instructions and talking points aimed at applying a salve to old wounds — which dragged the speech down.

Reagan arrived in Moscow in 1988 with a speech aimed at inspiring Russians to yearn for freedom.

If you take Reagan’s 1988 speech at Moscow State University and replace “Soviet” for “Muslim World” and “Russian” for “Arab,” you would be awfully close to the speech that Obama should have given yesterday at Cairo University.

Read through the transcripts of both (Reagan here, Obama here), and tell me you don’t think Reagan should have been the one to espouse freedom and democracy to the Muslim world.


Keeping us safe? No more armed pilots

obamaplaneIt’s easy to imagine what the outcome of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would have been had the pilots or flight crew aboard American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93 been armed. The planes still might have gone down, as was the case when passengers aboard Flight 93 fought back, but the body count surely would have been lower than 2,974.

Since those attacks, pilots have been able to go through a federal training program to become armed, federal officers aboard their aircraft. Some 12,000 pilots have become Federal Flight Deck Officers.

According to the Washington Times, that’s about to end so President Obama can pander to the anti-gun lobby, which should have nothing to do with this. Security should trump politics.

Not only is President Obama exploring ways to release terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so they can rejoin their comrades, he also plans to strip American passengers of their last line of defense from those terrorists.

As the Times writes in an editorial today:

After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.

Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.

The Obama administration this past week diverted some $2 million from the pilot training program to hire more supervisory staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots. …

Since Mr. Obama’s election, pilots have told us that the approval process for letting pilots carry guns on planes slowed significantly. Last week the problem went from bad to worse. Federal Flight Deck Officers – the pilots who have been approved to carry guns – indicate that the approval process has stalled out.

Pilots cannot openly speak about the changing policies for fear of retaliation from the Transportation Security Administration. Pilots who act in any way that causes a “loss of confidence” in the armed pilot program risk criminal prosecution as well as their removal from the program. Despite these threats, pilots in the Federal Flight Deck Officers program have raised real concerns in multiple interviews. …

Armed pilots are a cost-effective backup layer of security. Terrorists can only enter the cockpit through one narrow entrance, and armed pilots have some time to prepare themselves as hijackers penetrate the strengthened cockpit doors. With pilots, we have people who are willing to take on the burden of protecting the planes for free. About 70 percent of the pilots at major American carriers have military backgrounds.

Frankly, as a matter of pure politics, we cannot understand what the administration is thinking. Nearly 40 House Democrats are in districts were the NRA is more popular than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We can’t find any independent poll in which the public is demanding that pilots disarm. Why does this move make sense?

Only anti-gun extremists and terrorist recruits are worried about armed pilots. So why is the Obama administration catering to this tiny lobby at the expense of public safety?

Change we can believe in … or die for.

Read the whole thing here.


Peace in our time

Apparently one of the world’s icons of peace is in love with our outgoing president.

Even the Dalai Lama rejects Sesame Street diplomacy.

“It is difficult to deal with terrorism through non-violence,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said delivering the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture here.

He also termed terrorism as the worst kind of violence which is not carried by a few mad people but by those who are very brilliant and educated.

“They (terrorists) are very brilliant and educated…but a strong ill feeling is bred in them. Their minds are closed,” the Dalai Lama said.

Hmmmm …