Posts Tagged ‘Terrorists’

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Obama and Holder to Deny Miranda Rights to American Citizens

05.12.10

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder take a play straight out of the neoconservative handbook with their newest stance on terrorism suspects: no Miranda rights.

The line of reasoning as I can tell goes something like this:

  1. All terrorists harbor information on the whereabouts and plans of other bigger and badder terrorists;
  2. Intense interrogation that potentially goes outside the realm of current American law is the only way to obtain this crucial information;
  3. Therefore, Miranda rights must be suspended for terror suspects in order to save lives.

This new stance comes after the attempted bombing in New York City’s Times Square last week by Faisal Shahzad — an American citizen.  Obama and Holder want to suspend the Miranda rights for anyone – this means American citizens, as well – accused of terrorism or attempted terrorism.  This wouldn’t come as much of a surprise had McCain/Palin won the election in 2008, but I find it troubling that it’s coming from the current administration.  And after last month’s passing of the new immigration law in Arizona, it seems that the new status quo is denying civil rights that have long defined America in favor of strict and intrusive government oversight, all in the elusive and illusory name of security.

Those who cried fascism – Tea Partiers/conservatives/Republicans – during the implementation of universal health care should be screaming their heads off at this, yet I haven’t heard anything but support so far from those groups.  I can’t help but wonder why — isn’t denying rights to American citizens at their discretion pretty much the epitome of big government?

Holder backs up this new policy with some lines that make him sound like the edited-for-TV version of Dick Cheney.

“We’re now dealing with international terrorists,” he said, “and I think that we have to think about perhaps modifying the rules that interrogators have and somehow coming up with something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face.”

Oh, we’re just now dealing with international terrorists?  What about Mohammad Atta, Richard Reid, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?  They weren’t Americans.  Faisal Shahzad, however – the man whose alleged actions seem to have been the straw that broke the Miranda’s back – is an American citizen, so it seems that we’re actually now dealing with domestic terrorists.  (If you don’t count Joseph Stack, the disturbed American who flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, which many don’t because he wasn’t an Islamist.)

More emptiness:

The conclusion that Mr. Shahzad was involved in an international plot appeared to come from investigations that began after his arrest and interrogation, including inquiries into his links with the Taliban in Pakistan.

“We know that they helped facilitate it,” Mr. Holder said of the Times Square bombing attempt. “We know that they helped direct it. And I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence which shows that they helped to finance it. They were intimately involved in this plot.”

Note that they got all of this information despite having read Shahzad his rights.

So, where’s this dire need for intelligence that can only be had by suspending Americans’ rights?  And why are so many Americans clamoring for this?

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Torture Advocate Wants Terrorists Brought Back Alive for More Torture

02.11.10

The CIA just reported that they have successfully killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban in a drone attack in the area volatile region of Waziristan.  It’s another in a long line of most-wanted terrorists being killed in drone attacks that President Obama has escalated to continue the war on terrorism, which has gained approval from even the most vocal of his political opponents.

But not all.  Apparently the killing of top terrorist operatives is actually a bad thing, according to torture advocator Marc Theissen:

Today, the Obama administration is no longer attempting to capture men like these alive; it is simply killing them. This may be satisfying, but it comes at a price. With every drone strike that vaporizes a senior al Qaeda leader, actionable intelligence is vaporized along with him. Dead terrorists can’t tell you their plans to strike America.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Dead terrorists can’t tell you their plans to strike America, this is true.  But they also can’t carry out those plans either.  And if the goal in the end is to make America safer, then it is working.  But, of course, Theissen doesn’t want these terrorists killed in sterile drone attacks.  In his sadistic world, he wants these terrorists brought in alive so that they can be sent down to Gitmo and tortured within inches of their lives, or worse.  In his world, that is the only way to make America safe.  Any other way is soft on terror.

The recent strike on Qasim al-Raymi, a senior military leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is a case in point. After having been caught blind by this terrorist network’s near success in blowing up an airplane over Detroit, why not try to capture and interrogate its senior leaders alive instead of killing them? Wouldn’t it make sense to get these men to reveal whom they have trained, where they have been deployed, and what their plans are for the next attack? But the Obama administration is not even trying to do this.

Not even trying?  That’s unfair.  How about the FBI has Abdulmutallab in custody and even has the assistance and cooperation of his own family to gain intelligence about his terrorist network?  Granted, we only have Abdulmuttab in custody because of his failed terrorist attack, but regardless, we have a live terrorist here for interrogation.  And the information authorities have obtained hasn’t been completely tainted and tarnished by war crimes that would render them inadmissible and most likely completely unhelpful.

The problem is that Theissen doesn’t see any difference between torturing terror suspects in a covert base in Cuba and the collateral damage of bombing a country during war:

Obama’s drone campaign is costing the United States vital intelligence, and it has also exposed him to the charge of hypocrisy. The president has claimed the moral high ground in eliminating the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program, saying that he rejects the [sic] “the false choice between our security and our ideals.” Yet when Obama orders a Predator or Reaper strike, he is often signing the death warrant for the women and children who will be killed alongside the target — individuals whose only sin is that they are married to, or the children of, a terrorist. Is this not a choice between security and ideals? And why is it a morally superior choice? Is it really more in keeping with American ideals to kill a terrorist and the innocent people around him, when the United States might instead spare the innocent, capture the same terrorist alive, and get intelligence from him that could potentially save many other innocent lives as well?

(My emphasis.)

He compares the age-old debate of innocent casualties accidentally caught in the middle of a war to the institutionalized torture program that breaks all moral and ethical codes across the board.  He assumes that if we were to bring in these terrorists alive that not only would innocents not be killed, but even more would be saved.  I’d like to know where the figures are on how many innocents have been saved from the torture program down at Gitmo.  From things I’ve read, it’s put countless more innocent lives in danger by spreading anti-American sensibilities across the Islamic world.

Of course collateral damage must be minimized and the drone program has many concerned that too many innocents are be killed along with the terrorists.  It’s valid to question just how precise these drone attacks really are and if there is room for improvement.   But Theissen isn’t doing that.  It’s one thing to drop a bomb on a spot that you know for sure houses terrorists but may also have innocents in there as well.  It’s quite another to use barbaric techniques out of the Khmer Rouge torture handbook to simulate drowning 183 times on the same individual:

When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was located in 2003, the United States did not send a Predator to kill him. It captured him alive and got him to give up the details of the plots he had set in motion. That decision saved thousands of lives.

Did it really save thousands of lives?  Whose lives?  And where are the statistics to prove that?  Theissen has nothing.  He also doesn’t bother to get into just how difficult the terrain is there on the ground in the region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  What about all of the American deaths that would certainly increase if we were to send more troops on the ground in efforts to maybe capture some terrorists alive?  Haven’t we lost enough soldiers in the past nine years of this conflict that sending unmanned drones to strike known terrorist hideouts is worth the risk of collateral damage?  And haven’t we already sunk to unspeakably new lows with Theissen’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” that, sadly, innocent deaths in an act of war is actually an improvement on the morality scale?

I’d say so.

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This is Still a Holy War

01.07.10

Segregating people of certain countries to go through pat-downs or walk through full-body scanners, forcing everyone to remain in their seats during the last hour of certain flights, and disallowing passengers from accessing their carry-on baggage during certain times of the flight will do nothing to change the fact that so many people consider this a holy war.

The total religious disconnect with this war makes it unlike anything else we’ve encountered.  This isn’t just an ideological difference like the capitalism versus communism conflicts that America endured in the last century.  Communist ideals didn’t create suicide bombers willing to detonate themselves along with their American counterparts like those involved in this conflict.

America has some difficult decisions to make.  The knee-jerk reaction would be to make any and all Islamic countries banned from all air travel.  We’re already doing a less severe version of that with the restrictions and mandatory extra-security measures for those who travel from certain countries and anyone who is a citizen of said countries.  Sure, on the surface it makes sense: stop those people from countries who want to kill us from entering America’s borders.  But, the issue though isn’t just with those specific countries.  The obvious way around this form of security would be for terrorists to get official papers from countries not on that no-fly list.  They have the money and the connections so you know that will be possible.  What happens when the next terrorist travels on a British, Australian, or Canadian visa or passport?  Do we just start banning anyone with an Arabic sounding name?  What about Richard Reid, the infamous shoe-bomber?  Were these current rules in place then, he still could’ve made it through.

I don’t have the answers to this riddle and I don’t envy those in government this difficult task.  I recently read an article about how Israel handles their airport security that made me wonder why we can’t scrap our system and start over.  I realize the costs involved would be enormous, but what about the costs if we don’t?  How does it help us to spend money on our current system that doesn’t work: we spend all of our time in fear that the terrorists will sneak through the holes in our security (which they will eventually) and then putting bandaids over those gaps (rinse and repeat).  Unfortunately, the article doesn’t explain how Israel deals with incoming flights, which is our current crisis.

There will always be a way around our false sense of security.  When will we realize that we aren’t any safer by adding more and more reactive, rather than proactive, measures that come dangerously close to infringing upon the very values on which America was founded?  Alienating specific demographics – in this case, Arabs and Muslims – will do nothing to help us in this fight.  If we want to create more radicals, this has to be a pretty solid way to do it.

And that will only make us less, not more, safe.