Terrorism and the Courts

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The worst decision ever!

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It Begins

A federal judge has tossed out most of the government's evidence against a terrorism detainee on grounds his confessions were coerced, allegedly by U.S. forces, before he became a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.

In a ruling this week, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan also said the government failed to establish that 23 statements the detainee made to interrogators at Guantanamo Bay were untainted by the earlier coerced statements made while he was held under harsh conditions in Afghanistan.

The judge said the government presented medical records about the detainee's debilitating physical and mental condition that confirm his claims of harsh treatment during the 40 days he spent in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Despite Hogan's concerns about the 23 statements, the judge relied on other evidence and three statements Al Madhwani made to a military tribunal and a review board to conclude that he trained, traveled and associated with members of al-Qaida, including high-level operatives.  On those grounds, the judge ruled he is legally detained.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Isn't Singing

Scott at Powerline blog says Obama's decision to treat Umar Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant rather than an enemy combatant is indefensible on the merits.  It is also incredibly costly in terms of foregone intelligence.  The administration's combined arrogance and stupidity would be laughable if their consequences weren't so serious.

Today's Telegraph carries Philip Sherwell's article quoting former Senator and 9/11 Commission member Slade Gorton on the issue.  Speaking of Abdulmutallab, Gorton says:

"He was singing like a canary, then we charged him in civilian proceedings, he got a lawyer and shut up," Slade Gorton, a member of the 9/11 Commission that investigated the Sept 2001 terror attacks on the US, told The Sunday Telegraph.

"I find it incomprehensible that this administration is treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue.  The president has finally said that we are at war with al-Qaeda.  Well, if this is a war, then Abdulmutallab should be treated as a combatant not a criminal."

Why is Obama treating Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant?  It is an unbelievable fact that we have as yet no straightforward answer to this question.  There is, in any event, no good answer to it.  If we are at war with al Qaeda, as Obama himself asserted last week in the statement to which Gorton alludes, why are we treating Umar Abdulmutallab (not to mention Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) like John Gotti?

John Hinderaker adds:  Check this out, too -- Marc Thiessen's excellent piece which explains the unique value of intelligence gained from captured al Qaeda terrorists.
Obama Yields
Last night, Obama ordered the Attorney General to consider other places to try the 9/11 terror suspects after a wave of opposition to holding the trial in lower Manhattan.

The dramatic turnabout came hours after Mayor Bloomberg said he would "prefer that they did it elsewhere" and then spoke to Attorney General Eric Holder.

"It would be an inconvenience at the least, and probably that's too mild a word for people that live in the neighborhood and businesses in the neighborhood," Bloomberg told reporters.  "There are places that would be less expensive for the taxpayers and less disruptive for New York City."

State and city leaders have increasingly railed against a plan to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Manhattan federal court since Holder proposed it last month.

The order to consider new venues does not change the White House's position that Mohammed should be tried in civilian court.

"President Obama is still committed to trying Mohammed and four other terrorist detainees in federal court," spokesman Bill Burton said Thursday.

Continue reading here . . .

Half a loaf is better than none -- add this to the growing list of Obama defeats.
Obama Officials Wrong on Padilla
Thomas Joscelyn says al Qaeda terrorist Jose Padilla started talking only after he was designated an enemy combatant.

During an interview on MSNBC Thursday morning, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs defended the Obama administration’s handling of the Crotch Bomber, bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.  Gibbels argued that the administration was right to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant, instead of as an enemy combatant.  "Just because you make somebody an enemy combatant [it] doesn’t make them talk," Gibbs argued.  He then pointed to an example from the Bush years to supposedly support his point.

"Jose Padilla was made an enemy combatant so that we could get him to talk," Gibbels said.  "And guess what happened when we made him an enemy combatant, he didn't talk.  He did talk when he was transferred back into a civilian court."

Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, made the same point on Tuesday in an op-ed for USA Today.  Brennan argued: "Terrorists such as Jose Padilla and Saleh al-Mari did not cooperate when transferred to military custody, which can harden one's determination to resist cooperation."

Brennan and Gibbels are wrong.  In fact, Jose Padilla only started cooperating once he was transferred into the military’s custody and interrogated.

Continue reading here . . .
Obama Will Choose KSM Trial Location
Ryan J. Reilly is reporting that Obama will help select the location of the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) and insert himself into the process that has faced major political setbacks -- notice, the italicized word, "help."

At 3:29 in this video, Perky Katie Couric asks Obama if he has ruled out conducting the KSM trial in the Big Apple. Obama responds, "I have not ruled it out." -- notice, "I have not..." -- not "Holder hasn't ruled it out."

And, Fox News just broadcast a news alert (2/12/10 at 9:02 AM (EST)) that said Obama was personally going to Congress and get the money for the trial -- what's that they say about he who has the gold?

Anyone who has been following this page knows I strongly believe Obama has made all the decisions of the handling of KSM and his trial from the beginning -- he's calling the shots on the Black Panther case too.

This is just more evidence.
Obama Wants Terror Trial In America
Daniel Roberts says John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism aide, said Obama is committed to holding the 9/11 terror trial in the U.S., though he's not sure where.

Obama remains committed to trying accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in an American court -- although he remains unsure where, a top administration official said Saturday.

"As far as support from the community and funding requirement, the most important thing to keep in mind is we need to bring him to justice in an American court," said John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism aide.

"Whether it happens in New York, Pennsylvania or Virginia, where will funding come from?"

New York officials estimated the cost of holding a trial in Manhattan at $250 million. Mayor Bloomberg is among those opposed to a trial in lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from Ground Zero.

Brennan, appearing before a mostly Muslim audience at an NYU Islamic Center-sponsored event, avoided commenting on the controversy during his 45-minute speech, but addressed the issue after an audience member posed the question.

"Clearly, this is an issue people in the city feel strongly about," Brennan acknowledged.

"We are trying to push this forward as best we can, but we also need non-obstruction from certain forces in our government," he said later. "There are stiff winds delaying us from bringing this man to justice."
Obama Open To Miranda Review
NewsMax.com Barack reports Obama is open to the idea of reviewing Miranda warnings for terrorist suspects, Senior White House adviser David Axelrod said Monday.

Axelrod's comment came after Attorney General Eric Holder said changes by Congress may be needed to allow law enforcement more time to question suspected terrorists before being told about their right to a lawyer and their right to remain silent during interrogation.

Holder's weekend statements got a mixed reception from Republicans on Capitol Hill, with Sen. Lindsey Graham saying he was generally pleased with what he heard from the attorney general.

Graham said: "I've been advocating a long hard look at all of our laws regarding the threats we face."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Holder's statements on Miranda were overdue.

"I would remind Attorney General Holder that we have been very much at war with international terrorism for a long time," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

In an interview with CNN, Axelrod said: "I think the president is open to looking at that issue. ... Certainly we're willing to talk to Congress about that."  Axelrod said any changes would be in the area of adjustments, not a wholesale revision.

The New York Post reports that Holder said he wants legislation expanding an exemption to the rule, to apply when investigators interview terror suspects like Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized citizen.

Such authority would let cops immediately grill suspects about other plots and plotters -- without worrying that the questioning would harm their legal case.

It's certainly no coincidence that Holder also confirmed that the Pakistani Taliban was "intimately involved" in the bombing attempt.  "We know they helped direct it, and I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence which shows that they helped to finance it," he said.
Obama Gives Up On Gitmo
Charlie Savage says that Obama, who has been stymied by political opposition and focused on competing priorities, has sidelined efforts to close the Guantánamo prison, making it unlikely that he will fulfill his promise to close it before his term ends in 2013.

When the White House acknowledged last year that it would miss Obama’s initial January 2010 deadline for shutting the prison, it also declared that the detainees would eventually be moved to one in Illinois.  But impediments to that plan have mounted in Congress, and the administration is doing little to overcome them.

"There is a lot of inertia" against closing the prison, "and the administration is not putting a lot of energy behind their position that I can see," said Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and supports the Illinois plan.  He added that "the odds are that it will still be open" by the next presidential inauguration.

Continue reading here . . .
Congressman King Rips Obama On Ghailani Verdict
John McCormack says Peter King rips the Ghailani verdict as a "total miscarriage of justice today in Manhattan’s federal civilian court."  He says it demonstrates the "absolute insanity of the Obama Administration’s decision to try al-Qaeda terrorists in civilian courts."

"I am disgusted at the total miscarriage of justice today in Manhattan’s federal civilian court.  In a case where Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was facing 285 criminal counts, including hundreds of murder charges, and where Attorney General Eric Holder assured us that 'failure is not an option,' the jury found him guilty on only one count and acquitted him of all other counts including every murder charge.

"This tragic verdict demonstrates the absolute insanity of the Obama Administration’s decision to try al-Qaeda terrorists in civilian courts.

"This case was doomed from the beginning when the judge excluded DOJ’s key witness who admitted selling the explosives to Ghailani.  Where is the justice for the more than 200 people killed and 4,000 injured in the terrorist bombings of our U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania?

"This is a tragic wake-up call to the Obama Administration to immediately abandon its ill-advised plan to try Guantanamo terrorists like the admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed in federal civilian courts.  We must treat them as wartime enemies and try them in military commissions at Guantanamo.

"As the next Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, I intend to hold hearings and conduct the necessary oversight on this critical homeland security issue in the 112th Congress."

Related:  State-Run Media Neglects to Report That Ahmed Ghailani Delivered Explosives That Killed 2oo Innocents

Related:  Ahmed Ghailani, Gitmo detainee, acquitted of all but 1 charge in N.Y. (cleared on 285 counts)

Related:  Obama Justice Department Says It’s "Pleased" Ahmed Ghailani Acquitted on 285 of 286 Charges

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