Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Refusing Lifesaving Gifts

"A full investigation has been launched into this attempted act of terrorism and we will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable."

Thus spoke President Obama about the failed bombing attempt of the Christmas day Amsterdam-Detroit flight. A couple of months ago he had said that he would not rest until every American who wanted a job would get one. While there's no cure for the President's insomnia over the employment issue there's a simple one for terrorism - Stop treating illegal enemy combatants like common criminals. Don't provide them with the Constitutional protections afforded ordinary American citizens. Who cares if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is convicted of a crime? Not our enemies. A guilty verdict certainly won't deter them from mounting future attacks. They laugh at our unseriousness. Instead, let's find out what the guy knows. Interrogate him. Coercively, if necessary. (I would suggest putting a Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction type character on his case and "getting medieval on his ass" but this is probably outside the current realm of consideration). Following this approach would substantially augment and accelerate Obama's "full investigation".

Failed attempts like Abdulmutallab's are gifts - opportunities to learn more about the enemy. They give us knowledge essential in saving innocent American (and non-American) lives. George W. Bush knew this and war criminals like Khalid Sheik Mohammed were treated appropriately. Information obtained from KSM has been invaluable to the war effort.

As long as the Obama administration continues to obtusely deny that Islamic terrorists are in fact soldiers in a war, there will be no rest for the weary. Since he took office, there have been innumerable reminders of how this president falls short of his predecessor. None are more striking than his approach to his most important function - ensuring national security. Despite some important policy retentions (e.g. - warrantless surveillance, rendition, restrictions on detainee rights at Bagram prison), Obama has been otherwise reckless in his attempts to portray himself as the unBush - foolishly announcing the closing of Gitmo two days into his term (and planning to send some released inmates to the terrorist haven of Yemen); calling waterboarding torture and prohibiting its use under any circumstance; using the silly terminology of overseas contingency operations (war) and man-caused disasters (terrorist attacks); citing returning Iraqi war veterans as our most serious security threat; deciding to hold civilian trials for KSM and four other 9/11 conspirators; and now treating Abdulmutallab as a common criminal instead of a potential source of lifesaving information.

Obama's distancing himself from Bush on security matters also means distancing the country from what's proved successful in keeping the homeland safe from war the past eight years. Since Obama is only about Obama, he should realize that his legacy is just one major man-caused disaster from destruction.

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