Thursday, May 28, 2009

Is the War Over?

It’s official now. There’s no longer a war against terrorists. No, we didn’t win it, we’re just changing tactics. Instead of making war on them, we’re going to throw the book at them. Probably “The Audacity of Hope.”

According to an article in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, the FBI and Justice Department will be taking a bigger role in global terror investigations, replacing, as reporter Josh Meyers puts it, “a system based primarily on clandestine detentions and interrogations “ with “one emphasizing transparent investigations and prosecutions of terrorism suspects.”

The approach effectively reverses a mainstay of the Bush administration's war on terrorism, in which global counter-terrorism was treated primarily as an intelligence and military problem, not a law enforcement one. That policy led to the establishment of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; harsh interrogations; and detentions without trials.

The "global justice" initiative starts out with the premise that virtually all suspects will end up in a U.S. or foreign court of law. (“New FBI system brings terror operations out of the dark
Or, stated another way, the new program starts out with the premise that virtually all jihadists fighters will be granted the protections and advantages of criminal defendants.

Meyers quotes Richard Clarke putting it this way: “’We have to return to the practice that we had before of arresting terrorists and putting them on trial, said Clarke, who added that the country's ability to do that ‘has atrophied.’”

Yes, our terrorist-killing muscles got stronger and stronger these past few years at the expense our terrorist-prosecuting muscles . What a shame! Instead of killing all those al Qaeda fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should have brought them here and charged them as criminals, and now maybe they’d be in the fifth year of their criminal appeals, or even out on bond!

If treating al Qaeda and their kind as enemy combatants resulted in the atrophy of America’s terror-prosecution skills, then what should we expect to atrophy now?

I got a particular kick out of this:

The initiative would mean even broader incorporation of the FBI and Justice Department into global counter-terrorism operations. Many national security officials said it is a vindication of the FBI, which before Sept. 11 had played a leading role in international terrorism investigations.

FBI agents for years had used non-coercive interrogations to thwart attacks, win convictions of Al Qaeda operatives and gain an encyclopedic knowledge of how the terrorist network operates. But they withdrew from questioning important suspects after the bureau opposed the tactics being used by the CIA and military -- often by inexperienced civilian contractors.

Obama changes strategies and somehow that vindicates the FBI? I’m sure the FBI was doing a fantastic job of thwarting attacks and leading in international terrorism investigations right up until they failed to discover or thwart the 9/11 attacks.

Even Josh Meyer noted how:

The FBI itself has been criticized, as has the CIA, for failing to connect the dots before the Sept. 11 attacks. In hindsight, the evidence pointed to a clear and intensive Al Qaeda effort to launch attacks on U.S. soil.

I don’t pretend to have a hot line into the FBI. But I do know that until only a few months ago the FBI’s “terror encyclopedia” had a blank page in the CAI-CAN volume where a lengthy article on “CAIR” was supposed to be.

And I’m beginning to notice that when unidentified government sources complain in the press about other agencies, especially when I see phrases like “inexperienced civilian contractors,” it’s got more to do with institutional jealousy (and arrogance), than it does with making sure the mission gets carried out.

Simply changing our footing from war-fighting to crime-fighting won’t cure America’s delusion that we can wish our way back to 9/10 the easy way. It'll make it worse.

For years the left has been putting the word “war” in sneer quotes, and complaining that enemy combatants should be handled as criminal defendants with full due-process rights. Under this new regime they’ll next be putting the word “crime” in sneer quotes, and complaining that criminal prosecutions of “political prisoners” and “freedom fighters” is a blight on our values and the reason the whole world hates us. Hollywood starlets will go on The View demanding the release of KSM, and Springsteen will write a dreary song about waterboarding with a phrase that repetitively rhymes “down” with “drown.”

If you think I’m exaggerating about those sneers, witness how already one AP reporter did both in the same paragraph today when reporting on the sentencing of the Holy Land Foundation defendants in Dallas.

The sentencing re-energized Holy Land's supporters, who believe the prosecution was a politically motivated product of former President George W. Bush's "war on terror" and a prime example of post-Sept. 11 anti-Islam fervor.

Across the street from the courthouse, a handful of people held a banner that read "Feeding Children Is Not A Crime."

No comments: