June 17, 2008

Would Obama handle "terrorism simply as a matter of law enforcement"?

Here's a nice, stark contrast between the candidates.

Obama:
[L]et's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, "Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims."

So that, I think, is an example of something that was unnecessary. We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws.
McCain's Foreign Policy Advisor Randy Scheunemann:
Barack Obama's belief that we should treat terrorists as nothing more than common criminals demonstrates a stunning and alarming misunderstanding of the threat we face from radical Islamic extremism. Obama holds up the prosecution of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 as a model for his administration, when in fact this failed approach of treating terrorism simply as a matter of law enforcement rather than a clear and present danger to the United States contributed to the tragedy of September 11th. This is change that will take us back to the failed policies of the past and every American should find this mindset troubling.
Via Memeorandum, which collects commentary here.

It's sharp of McCain to put Obama in this box. But it should also be seen that Obama's statement is vague in spots. He could wriggle out of that box (if he wants).

First, Obama says that there is a precedent for arresting terrorists and convicting them within the ordinary judicial process. Then, he says that the Bush administration has "never actually put many of these folks on trial." That's not quite saying that they all should be put through the criminal process, only that it gives a bad impression to the world not to send "many" to trial. He highlights appearances (rather than legal requirements). What will the world think of us? And he expresses the belief that capturing and holding persons accused of terrorism has "given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment." In his view, if the government were to use criminal procedures, would-be terrorists would somehow love us.

Obama's tumble of sentences creates a mood. Did you feel it? If he is President, the world will respect us and peace will reign. If you believe... enjoy the pleasure of the dream. You love him, so why wouldn't the whole world love us? We will follow legal procedures, not because they are required and we must follow the law, but because the world will look at us with love if we do.

But why would that happen? I don't understand the mechanism. It didn't prevent 9/11. Since when do terrorists admire western legal traditions? Someone needs to push Obama with follow up questions.

I suspect that what he wants to say is that he believes in the American legal tradition and is committed to following it, but that he thinks this position isn't sufficiently politically popular, so he resorts to a cause-and-effect argument — following the law will fight terrorism — that doesn't hang together.

85 comments:

Moose said...

Secondary message:

"Now that GW has done the dirty work, I can step in and be the cleansing rain to wash off the mud."

Should work pretty well for Obama, for a while...

rhhardin said...

There's the theory that Obama isn't too bright.

P. Rich said...

There isn't anything particularly coherent about any of Obama's arguments - when he wanders far enough off the "hope and change" laugh track to express one.

From his primary victory speech:

“This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation."


There's nothing like grandiose incoherence to send a shiver up the leg.

MadisonMan said...

Since when do terrorists admire western legal traditions?

I don't think we should be bending our laws so that terrorists are happy. We should be acting in a fair manner (for some definition of fair...) so that the majority of the Muslim World -- who aren't terrorists -- do not support terrorists. If terrorizing the west loses its -- is cachet a good word here -- among most Muslims, would terrorist acts decrease? I think that's a good question.

I think improving the economies of Muslim countries -- so they aren't poor, and so that people are too busy getting rich to terrorize -- might be a good idea too.

former law student said...

Foreign Policy Advisor Randy Scheunemann said Surprisingly little other than Blah blah blah, Obama's a simpleton. The law enforcement model might well have worked if the FBI had followed up on some of the leads they got, notably how Muslim visitors were skipping the "how to land" part of their airliner flight training.

The trouble with calling something a war on terror is that terrorism is not a war. McCain seems to be embracing the failed policies of the past -- Bush's past -- where the dialysis patient Bin Laden is no nearer to capture than he was six years ago.

And how about the failed Bush policy of going to war on borrowed money? The resulting deficits have driven down the dollar by 50%, making an American icon like Anheuser-Busch ripe for takeover by a Belgian swill producer called "InBev". Not to mention running up the price of gas to $4.50 a gallon, dealing the coup de grace to General Motors, which relied on SUV and light truck sales to stay afloat against Japanese competition.

The W. lesson is clear: never select a C student to run your country. McCain, who graduated towards the bottom of his class, does not inspire confidence.

rhhardin said...

The W. lesson is clear: never select a C student to run your country.

``A'' is the new ``C.''

ricpic said...

Obama: Let's treat terrorist like reg'lar folk.

Obama Supporter: I be down wid dat.

Anthony said...

Someone needs to push Obama with follow up questions.

That's a joke, right?

Blue Moon said...

The thing that frustrates me about these food fight about terrorism is that there is so much we do not know and should not know about what our government is doing to prevent it. Do we have sources inside radical mosques? What is our standard for paying people for information -- if a former member of Al Q has information we could get, what lenghts should go to? What do we do with the information we have? Assassination? Kidnapping?

There is no silver bullet - answering the question of whether indicting terrorists or holding them as enemy combatants is 2% of the solution. But hey, we can all make ourselves feel better by berating the other side for their "wrong" answer. Meanwhile, in a mosque in north London...

dbp said...

FLS: "The resulting deficits have driven down the dollar by 50%".

Given that the current defict is at roughly the 40 year average, this conclusion seems a little forced.

Hoosier Daddy said...

[L]et's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, "Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims."


Unbelievable. Lets see, we tried and imprisoned the WTC '93 terrorists and after that we got bin Laden to publically declare war on the USA, the Khobar Towers, our embassies in Africa bombed, the USS Cole nearly sunk and then 9/11. Yet somehow Bambi makes the leap that Bush has emboldened Muslim terrorists because we now are not trying these fucks in US courts? One has to suspend logic on a galactic scale to come up with that kind of conclusion.

Earth to Obama. The terrorists don't care about our rule of law. We have secular law. They have Sharia. Our law doesn't mean jack shit to them. If he thinks our law has any credibility in the Muslim world than he's not just naieve, he's dangerously naieve and has no business anywhere near 1600 PA Ave.

Simon said...

As I've said a couple off times here in recent weeks, I just don't understand the concept of processing them through the criminal law system. Even assuming that we have laws criminalizing what these people are doing, under what theory of criminal jurisdiction could we try them, given that most of what we are talking about are actions undertaken outside the United States by persons who are not U.S. citizens?

Hoosier Daddy said...

I think improving the economies of Muslim countries -- so they aren't poor, and so that people are too busy getting rich to terrorize -- might be a good idea too.

Correct me if I am wrong but if you look at the masterminds behind AQ, they aren't exactly goatheders and peasant farmers. Atta had an education that could have landed him a 5 figure job in the West and instead chose mass murder.

To paraphrase, it ain't the economy, but rather a nihilistic cult masquerading as a religion.

Simon said...

(Primarily comments in this thread, that is.)

Moose said...

The critical difference between now, say WWII, is that during WWII, we viewed the enemy as the enemy.

Now, we are too sophisticated for that, particularly given the second guessing regarding WWII strategies, and the hash we made of Viet Nam.

We don't really have the stomach anymore for fighting total war on someone. The major failures in Iraq were our inabilty to fight a limited war in a garrisoned country - a task we, as a nation, have never been good at.

Obama's approach will work if only for the fact that it allows the squeamish to still support a GWOT, while feeling clean while doing so.

Ignoring the facts that the Dem leadership in Congress bought into GW's rendition and interrogation programs and the very use of those programs by Clinton will serve to disconnect the Dems and indirectly Obama from their involvement in Iraq.

Outis said...

What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

Forget calling Obama out on policy, call him out for misstating the facts. We were able to put SOME of those responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing on trial.

But our legal processes let the FBI catch and then release one of the suspects, who then fled the country. ABDUL RAHMAN YASIN remains on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. So Yasin is NOT incapacitated in a US prison.

A further problem with Obama's example is that all of the principles in the 1993 bombing were already in the country. How exactly was the legal process supposed to deal with bin Laden or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? The Afghani government wasn't going to extradite them.

At the very least Obama's statement is factually incorrect and incomplete as a matter of policy.

Invisible Man said...

In his view, if the government were to use criminal procedures, would-be terrorists would somehow love us.

Ann,

This is such an insincere reading of Obama or anyone else's stance on this matter. No one believes that terrorists would love us for instituting some basic level of criminal procedures, but at this point how can you deny that all manner of Military and Civilian leadership from both left and right believe that our policies have been a boon for recruitment.

The fact is that we've done a decent job at killing and capturing terrorists over the years, but that doesn't really help us if we keep creating more and more of them. There will always been psychopaths out there looking for a cause, but the evidence points to the fact that many moderates have been recruited to these causes with the help of our policies. You can see this policy working in Iraq now on a tactical level, and it would be dumb to not consider its efficacy in the larger struggle. The policy is pretty simply, "Kill and capture terrorists, without helping to create more".

Bob said...

What is so surprising about each candidate's approach. Obama is a lawyer so for him the solution is legal. For McCain, former naval aviator, its got a military bent.

I think Obama's reasoning is naive. The "if I'm nice to the bully then he'll be nice to me" line of reasoning from my playground days. I can't find any evidence of this presumed explosion of support for terrorists. For the first couple of years after 9/11 yes there was more support. But that's more of the "everyone loves a winner" effect and Bin Ladin could make the claim he was winning. Now, not so much.

former law student said...

Simon, if a crime was not committed by a US national, and has no effect on the United States or its nationals, then I agree the US has no criminal jurisdiction. But in such a case, why would we care?

Then the question arises of what should constitute a crime. I would suggest any crime we consider malum in se, but perhaps the world would limit such crimes to jus cogens crimes, such as torture.

rightwingprof said...

"Obama's tumble of sentences creates a mood. Did you feel it?"

No.

The only thing I feel when he speaks is intense irritation. Then, vacuous blather annoys me, yet seems to lull many into some sort of sense of fuzzy headedness. Or something.

And I'm still waiting for the first sign that Obama is, in any way at all, intelligent. So far, there has been nothing.

rightwingprof said...

"we keep creating more and more of them"

This is not only a stupid statement, it's patently offensive. Nobody "creates" murderers. Murderers choose of their own free will to murder, and their crimes are their responsibility, and theirs alone.

former law student said...

How exactly was the legal process supposed to deal with bin Laden or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? The Afghani government wasn't going to extradite them.

How about through International Counterterrorism treaties? Did the Senate ever ratify these?

http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/2001/5662.htm

Outis said...

I wrote: How exactly was the legal process supposed to deal with bin Laden or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? The Afghani government wasn't going to extradite them.

former law student reponded with: How about through International Counterterrorism treaties? Did the Senate ever ratify these?

http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/2001/5662.htm


How exactly would those treaties have compelled the Taliban, already under international sanction, to surrender suspects to US authority? Furthermore, Afghanistan (under the Taliban) would not have been signatories to those treaties. As far as the Taliban would have been concerned those acts would have had no meaning.

Jim Hu said...

How about through International Counterterrorism treaties?
Try googling "refuses to extradite". We don't get all the extraditions we want from our actual allies. You probably think the UN Human rights council works too.

I suspect former law student of being a wingnut mole, sent to convince moderates that the stereotype leftwing dupe really exists.

J'accuse!

Outis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AJ Lynch said...

Obama is atarting to sound a lot like John Kerry.

Obama does not even know how to treat a schoolyard bully - why is that? He worries about what the bullies friends and family will think if the bully gets socked in the nose.

Ann you are volunteering to work for Obama by asking that question. He could use you.

Evan said...

Ah, "the terrorists." Always with "the terrorists." Gotta love that mysterious, implacable, unknowable enemy. Back in the day it was "the communists." Now it's "the terrorists."

"The terrorists" don't have to recruit people to fill their ranks, no matter how many suicide bombers they send. No, they can just spawn more "the terrorists" out of nothing.

They don't have to worry about winning sympathies among the Muslim populations they rely on to hide them from us. All Muslims instinctively sympathize with "the terrorists."

Al Qaeda isn't a Cloud of Ineffable Evil. It's a real organization made up of real people, who are subject to the same limitations as the rest of us. They don't have magic mind control powers over Muslims and they don't have a machine that spits out new suicide bombers at the push of a button. What they do have is a story - America is out to oppress Muslims and seize their oil. And we're playing the villain in their story, right on cue.

I don't give a damn what Osama bin Laden thinks of us. I do care what the average Middle Eastern Muslim thinks of us - because the more the average Muslim looks on us as tyrants, the more easily bin Laden can hide his people from us and replenish their ranks.

You'll notice that we only started to get a handle on Al Qaeda In Iraq when we quit regarding everybody who was fighting us as "the terrorists" and started making alliances with native Sunni insurgents against the foreign Al Qaeda fighters. We cannot win this struggle without the support of Muslim populations. Guantanamo Bay has become a symbol of American hypocrisy. Shutting it down won't put an end to Al Qaeda, but it will certainly help.

Henry said...

Then, he says that the Bush administration has "never actually put many of these folks on trial."

No, the Bush Administration went ahead and killed a bunch of them.

It's too bad we didn't get to have show trials first, but the dead terrorists are still dead.

* * *

Snark aside, I think we need both approaches. Where we take military action, we have military goals. Outside of the war zones we proceed as aggressively as we can on the criminal front, following criminal procedures.

I do think the Bush administration badly blundered by confusing the distinction between civil and military prisoners. Whatever the legal aspects of the Guantanamo arrangement, the political framework was unsustainable.

William said...

Some of the English terrorists led exemplary lives prior to their one terrorist attack. If they had been arrested one day prior to the attack, many like Obama would have argued that the arrest was an example of xenophobia and hysteria. A minority sensibility can sometimes help you see with clarity the distorted prism of the majority. However, this sensibility has its own distortions. Ayers probably thinks that his own terrorist activities were justified and that, in any case, those activities were dwarfed by the crimes of the FBI. My sense is that Obama would be, if not in agreement than in sympathy wtih such a view...When someone on the left or in the Muslim world protest against the use of power drills by AQ in Iraq as instruments of torture, I will have a greater respect for their pursuit of even handed justice.

LarsPorsena said...

The law enforcement angle of handling AQ, dovetails nicely with solving oil problems by suing OPEC.

I remember a video of AQ/Taliban in Afghanistan shortly after 9-11. They were hooting that the only
American response would be to sue each other.
Not far off the mark.
AQ seems to know the mindset of a certain portion of our population.

Too many jims said...

Simon said...
Even assuming that we have laws criminalizing what these people are doing, under what theory of criminal jurisdiction could we try them, given that most of what we are talking about are actions undertaken outside the United States by persons who are not U.S. citizens?


Did you happen to see the link to the Congressional Research Service report that I provided in that comments thread (somewhere between comment 200 and 220). It provides a well researched compendium of the hows and whys of extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction.

Bruce Hayden said...

The fact is that we've done a decent job at killing and capturing terrorists over the years, but that doesn't really help us if we keep creating more and more of them. There will always been psychopaths out there looking for a cause, but the evidence points to the fact that many moderates have been recruited to these causes with the help of our policies. You can see this policy working in Iraq now on a tactical level, and it would be dumb to not consider its efficacy in the larger struggle. The policy is pretty simply, "Kill and capture terrorists, without helping to create more".

For awhile, our intervention into Iraq operated to create more terrorists. But then, they couldn't kill our people, so they killed a lot of Moslem civilians, we started killing a lot of them, the Iraqis started killing even more of them, they got a bad name across the Islamic world, were told that they would not get their virgins by their clergy, and recruitment has dropped significantly in the last year.

Buford Gooch said...

"embracing the failed policies of the past" I get so tired of this crappy line. Obama is "embracing the failed policies" of the Carter administration.

TMink said...

rightwingprof wrote: "Nobody "creates" murderers. Murderers choose of their own free will to murder, and their crimes are their responsibility, and theirs alone."

/sarcasm=on

Dude, they are brown, they are not responsible for their actions. Only white Europeans are responsible for their actions. We are the scourge of the world, the first mover of evil. We create the terrorists, they know not what they do. If we would abandon our selfish lifestyle, they would lay down their hatred of the Jews and the West and make us dinner.

/sarcasm=off

Trey

Larry J said...

Bill Clinton had a cabinet full of lawyers who "looked like America." They approached everything from a legalist point of view. That's why they were incapable of responding to most situations where decisive action was required, such as when a country offered to turn bin Laden over to the US.

Obama comes from the same Ivy League legalistic background as Bill Clinton. Everything I've heard from him inspires less and less confidence in his ability.

And I'm still waiting for the first sign that Obama is, in any way at all, intelligent. So far, there has been nothing.

I've never been one to suffer fools gladly, which is why I have such low regard of Obama and his sychophants. Nothing in his background indicates that he has any real world experience at anything. He's an empty suit. He says nothing but he says it so well! Platitudes are a long way from leadership.

Jimmie said...

EVan, oh Evan. Do you really believe this?

"What they do have is a story - America is out to oppress Muslims and seize their oil. And we're playing the villain in their story, right on cue."

their story is demonstrably false. Wwe have seized no oil. We have oppressed no Muslims. We have, on the other hand, freed a couple dozen million Muslims who right now are building a strong liberal government right in the heart of the Middle East. The poltiical progress there is such that even the Washington Post and New York Times are openly professing it.

Their "story" is only helped by politicians like Barack Obama who perpetuate the Islamist lie in direct opposition to real eventsw in the real world.

Outis said...

Here's another lovely example of how ineffective legal systems can be when dealing with terrorists.

Sloanasaurus said...

The fact is that we've done a decent job at killing and capturing terrorists over the years, but that doesn't really help us if we keep creating more and more of them.

This is a false view. Al Qaeda is a movement that can and will be defeated. Obama wants to go on defense, meaning waiting to be attacked. Bush rejected this view and went on offense. Being on offense is far cheaper and more effective at preventing attacks.

We have not been attacked on US soil since 9-11 - 7 years! This is a extraordinary achievement. The conventional wisdom following 9-11 was how soon after and how often we would be attacked. This achievement is due to the Bush Administration's policies - mostly due to our war against Al Qaeda in Iraq. The now certain victory over Al Qaeda has far more discredited radical islam in the world than it has discredited our obligation to the rule of law.

Obama is wrong that our polices have increased recruitment. Maybe they did for a few years into the WOT. But, recruitment is now way down. Al Qaeda is almost a total failure. Many sunni clerics have now publicly rejected Al Qaeda's strategy meaning that they both disagree and feel safe enough to say so publicly. Bin Ladin's plan failed because we fought back in Iraq and around the world and because Al Qaeda pursued a bad strategy (fighting in Iraq). No one wants to join a failing organization.

Blue Moon said...

Sloan:

The problem with your second paragraph IMHO is that there is no way to know. That's why these debates about terrorism are so often fruitless. Maybe we have foiled them, maybe they are just waiting, maybe a little bit of both. The last thing I want my president doing is having a primetime news conference to tell me what the CIA is doing. Just do it and don't get caught.

This is not either/or - you can have trials and constitutional protections for talibs captured in Kabul but still have guys putting holes in terrorist heads on the streets of Hamburg.

Cedarford said...

MadisonMan said...
Since when do terrorists admire western legal traditions?

"I don't think we should be bending our laws so that terrorists are happy. We should be acting in a fair manner (for some definition of fair...) so that the majority of the Muslim World -- who aren't terrorists -- do not support terrorists."


The idea that we get a system other than Sharia that Muslims are happ with, then they don't support terrorism - is ridiculous.

They keep telling us over and over again they don't hate us for our lawyers in robes playing law, or our un-Islamic civil liberties - they hate us because of our policies. And because we are infidel dogs that one day must submit to Allah's will.

In the meantime, Muslims ran afoul of some pretty harsh colonial justice, Mongol justice, tyrant Ottoman justice, and of course the godless brutal communist justice inflicted on Muslim minorities in the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and China.
None of that bred terrorism. In fact, they bunkered down and behaved pretty good when they knew the people they were thinking of bushwhacking did not mess around on 10-year due process extravaganzas costing 10s of millions of dollars in the criminal justice systems....the rope, the Chicommie bullet to the neck, the Mongol arrow.

Things were pretty quiet until the "freedom fighters rights movement" got started in the late 60s.

******************
The fact is that we've done a decent job at killing and capturing terrorists over the years, but that doesn't really help us if we keep creating more and more of them

The idea that if you fight terrorists rather than beg them to accept tribute or at least forgiveness for being an evil Westerner, you only create more...was an open question which soon was swallowed by the Left as Gospel truth.

Iraq did produce Jihadis, but many believe it was not low Iraqi civilian casualties that was the motivator, but the idea that order had collapsed in the ancient seat of the Caliphate - and it was a golden opportunity to create Al Qaeda's Central Front to replace a secular state with a Sunni Islamic one. (It certainly wasn't concern about civilians, as the Muslim terrorists began whacking them in the thousands months after they arrived. And didn't stop until we and the Iraqis turned on them and killed so many and tarred their image so that they can't recruit in numbers anymore ir Jihad in Iraq..)

***************
Evan - We cannot win this struggle without the support of Muslim populations.

Of course we can. Refer to the Reconquista, the Russian subjugation of Islamic tribes beginning in the 15th Century, the demise of the Barbary Pirates, and so on. Just as it would have been easier to win WWII if we had the support of the German population, but in the end, their suport was not necessary.

Even - Guantanamo Bay has become a symbol of American hypocrisy. Shutting it down won't put an end to Al Qaeda, but it will certainly help.

Guantanamo was a camp for enemy combatants. No different than the hundreds of camps we once had in the USA for 400,000 Germans and 80,000 Italians and other Axis prisoners, including civilian workers that operated with those militaries. No due process. Yet none was "A SYMBOL" - because, obviously - it takes the Left to make up a "symbol" then scream that because it is a "symbol", the world (meaning a pack of lefties and the Muslims they propagandized) demands that it be shut down.

As for hypocrisy, I suppose there is hypocrisy when we fail to act like the Arab Jihadis and Taliban do with their prisoners...

****************
Frankly, I'm not concerned that Obama's naivete will likely get Americans killed. Some lessons need to be learned in blood.
9/11 was not a big enough lesson. It needs to be repeated before the truth sinks in. As is, the Muslim's prime US targets are Blue cities and liberal Jews who hate Bush and want the terrorist rights to be paramount over American's security. I applaud them for the risk they assume under their Black Messiah's urging.

former law student said...

mostly due to our war against Al Qaeda in Iraq

But al-Qaeda-in-Iraq did not exist until after the US invaded Iraq. Thus its existence was a problem of our own making.

Simon said...

former law student has left a new comment on the post "Would Obama handle "terrorism simply as a matter o...":
"Simon, if a crime was not committed by a US national, and has no effect on the United States or its nationals, then I agree the US has no criminal jurisdiction. But in such a case, why would we care?"

Well, I think we obviously care when that activity is directed to harming the United States. If non-American Al Queda operatives are assembling a chemical weapon in Mexico, intending to wipe out San Diego, I think we care a great deal. (Perhaps not so much if it's San Francisco, but be that as it may.) If they were building it in Dallas, they would obviously be criminally liable under 18 U.S.C. § 229(a). That statute can't reach our Mexican bomb-builders, though. (I choose this example specifically, because it avoids the issue of whether you agree with my view on extraterritoriality as a general principle or not. § 229 contains a jurisdictional element that under standard canons of statutory construction would foreclose criminal charges on the facts above.) It's possible that we may be able to bring pressure on Mexico to take action, but I think most rational people would agree that American security should not depend on the grace of other countries.

So we can see the shortcomings of the "law enforcement" model: in the situation described above, we absolutely can and should take action. But we must do so under the power of war, not law. The choice is between cruise missiles and marines, not between military force and a federal indictment.

Too many jims has left a new comment on the post "Would Obama handle "terrorism simply as a matter o...":
"Did you happen to see the link to the Congressional Research Service report that I provided in that comments thread (somewhere between comment 200 and 220). It provides a well researched compendium of the hows and whys of extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction."

I did, I printed it off, and I appreicate the link, I just haven't yet had time to review it.

BillHall said...

I've always been struck by the nice, stark contrast between the U.S response to 9/11 and England's response to their long running terror problem with the I.R.A., or even Spain's response to the train bombings post 9/11...I remember reading in press coverage of Spain's bombing tragedy a quote from a transportation minister from Spain...the question was posed by an American journalist, asking why the Spanish citizenry didn't seem terrorized, and why Spain wasn't spending oodles of money on more security...the minister's answer was something like...'Sir, any one of us could step off a curb and get hit by a bus going home this evening...' -- sometimes the more refrained, big picture over-view is exactly the most effective. Obama has that for sure.

Sofa King said...

I'm honestly shocked that anyone could think a law enforcement approach was appropriate. The whole concept of assymetrical warfare, of political terrorism, is the futility of conventional law enforcement to prevent. Law enforcement is inherently reactive. Law enforcement is utterly powerless to do anything in the face of a person who hasn't yet committed a crime and then kills himself while doing so.

What September 11, 2001 made clear to most but not all was that apprehending and convicting specific individuals was pointless unless you can foil them before they have the chance to break the law.

Sofa King said...

I'm honestly shocked that anyone could think a law enforcement approach was appropriate. The whole concept of assymetrical warfare, of political terrorism, is the futility of conventional law enforcement to prevent. Law enforcement is inherently reactive. Law enforcement is utterly powerless to do anything in the face of a person who hasn't yet committed a crime and then kills himself while doing so.

What September 11, 2001 made clear to most but not all was that apprehending and convicting specific individuals was pointless unless you can foil them before they have the chance to break the law.

Sloanasaurus said...

But al-Qaeda-in-Iraq did not exist until after the US invaded Iraq. Thus its existence was a problem of our own making.

Whether or not Bin Ladin wanted it, Al Qaeda in iraq become the major front for radical islam. It sucked all the resources, the men, and the PR away from Bin Ladin. Bin Ladin had no choice but to make AQI his own. Bin Ladin's dream of defeating us in Afghanistan like he did the Soviets on the backs of thousands of crusading Arab jihadists died the moment we invaded Iraq.

Iraq is a far worst place to wage war as a terrorist against a modern army than Afghanistan, which is naturally built for defense. Moreover, AQI's strategy of terrorizing the locals into compliance (which was and is still successful in Afghanistan) and/or fermenting civil war between muslim sects ended up a total failure as well.

Bin Ladin made a big mistake challenging us in Iraq. With their defeat in Iraq and no victories elsewhere, Al Qaeda will soon dissappear as an international movement. A new era has begun in the middle east which is far more attractive to the young people there - the era of getting rich on $100 bbl oil.

Fen said...

Osama bin Laden was indicted in 1998. How did that work out?

you can have trials and constitutional protections for talibs captured in Kabul

Discovery.

submandave said...

"But al-Qaeda-in-Iraq did not exist until after the US invaded Iraq."

But there were terrorists and terrorist organizations harbored and trained in Oraq prior to the war. Specifically, there was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who formed and led al-Tawhid wal-Jihad prior to 2003, the group that was to form the core of al-Qaeda-in-Iraq. You see, being in al-Qaeda is similar to being a Dodger's fan. You don't have to go through anything so formal, as long as you honor and pledge yourself to the beliefs and goals of the organization and offer fealty to the "sheik". So, in 2004, when Zarqawi swore loyalty to Bin Ladin and rechristened his gang as AQI he was able to market himself as the focus for all things Caliphate in Mesopotamia.

So, like many simple anti-Bush slogans, while the phrase "Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq did not exist until after the US invaded" may have a kernal of truth, the facts are nto so clear cut. And I thought you guys were supposed to have a monopoly on nuance and details.

Fen said...

Again

Osama bin Laden was indicted in 1998.

Joshua said...

I much prefer McCain's gulag policy. If they didn't want to be imprisoned indefinitely, they shouldn't have decided to be swarthy Muslim types.

Blue Moon said...

Fen:

I know, and I know that in many cases that could be a problem. Obama-phile I am, I would rather us, uh, lose a suspect who was, uh, resisting arrest than try him. If President Blue Moon was told where OBL was and that he could be captured with ease, the President would turn to the Chairman of the JCS and start frantically coughing and winking. "I sure hope no one kills that guy, that would be terrible. If I were to find out who did that, oh boy would there be hell to pay."

When I think of trying these guys, I am thinking of the lower level guys -- the guy who rented the U-Haul, the guy who bought fertilizer. If they aren't in the U.S., I am looking to take them out, not bring them over here for trial.

Tex the Pontificator said...

Madison Man said: "I think improving the economies of Muslim countries -- so they aren't poor, and so that people are too busy getting rich to terrorize -- might be a good idea too."

Aren't the Arabs the ones with the oil? Am I missing something here. If they can't iprove their own economies with all that oil, there isn't much we can do about it.

titusabsolutelyloves you said...

I still think charting a plane full of mos down to Gitmo to sexually moleste the detainees would do them a world of good.

And afterward we send the videotape of them taking it up the ass to their fellow countrymen and families.

It would be a small part on my behalf to help the war of terror.

Also, they have to be clean shaven. No bear terrorists. And they should of been hitting the gym hard these past few years. I don't want any tubby terrorist.

AJ Lynch said...

Titus:

That is a brilliant suggestion.

Host with the Most said...

Liberals want the world to "love" the US. They can't wait for US standing to rise immediately under a President Obama.

But at the first moment that a foreign nation shows any major disagreement or even the slightest form of ridicule towards a President Obama, that nation and it's people will be labeled by the same liberals as "backward", "regressive" and "unable to participate in the world community". Then, as sure as the sun rises every morning, you will hear prominent liberal pundits and politicians declare that we don't really care what the rest of ________ thinks.

Didn't we already watch that movie under the Clinton's?

My new bumper sticker:

Liberals: making it up as they go along (because for the last 40+ years the American Public School System did it's Democrat Party/NEA mandated job of dumbing down the future electorate)!

Trevor Jackson said...

That's a terrible bumper sticker.

Beldar said...

Former law student:

When your enemies are attacking both your military and civilian populations with guided suicide missiles (jet-fuel filled aircraft), car bombs, rockets, mortars, heavy machine guns, RPGs, and AK-47s, you're in a war.

You choose to close your eyes to that, just like Obama. You're both so 9/10, which is to say, utter fools who've willfully blinded themselves to the facts.

vbspurs said...

No, Ann, he would handle it as a fairy tale. Winnie The Pooh and Tigger too. That is, he would be enabled...

If the World Could Vote For US President

(Ugh. How did this guy even get this close to the brass ring? Where is my Colonel Obama?)

Cheers,
Victoria

Simon said...

Victoria- time was, the claim that foreign powers supported a candidate was a scurrilous rumor that was spread by the candidate's opponent, the source of ruinous public disapprobation. Nowadays, the Obama and their fellow-travelers seem to revel in their "choice of non-Americans around the world" status.

submandave said...

"I much prefer McCain's gulag policy. If they didn't want to be imprisoned indefinitely, they shouldn't have decided to be swarthy Muslim types."

Let's see:
1. "gulag" = work/reeducation camp for internal political prisoners,
"GITMO" = detention facility for unlawful foreign enemy combatants

2. swarthy Muslim types vs. unlawful foreign enemy combatants captured under arms in a war zone

Joshua, there are a number of intelligent argumants one could make against continuing detention operations at GITMO, but I see no evidence that you even try to think before saying such patently stupid things. Or do you expect to get by in life solely on smarm and hipster cynicism?

Dudley Do-right said...

Yes, that is a terrible bumper sticker. You'd need a giant gas sucking SUV to find room for it all...with the result of putting more money for mischief in Arab pockets.
:DD

former law student said...

When your enemies are attacking both your military and civilian populations with guided suicide missiles (jet-fuel filled aircraft)

You're being terrorized.

When your enemies are attacking both your military and civilian populations with car bombs, rockets, mortars, heavy machine guns, RPGs, and AK-47s,...

You might be Israeli (apologies to Jeff Foxworthy).

BangkokAl said...

The difference between law enforcement and fighting a war is that the law gives everyone at least one free shot - one attempt to rob the bank, one attempt to rape the child, one attempt to place the bomb. Almost always, law enforcement catches a criminal and punishes him. Law enforcement can only step in after a crime. Yes, conspiracy crimes are useful and should be pursued, and yes, if we catch bad guys after they kill, they could well deserve their day in court before being put away.

But one does not effectively prevent terrorist attacks OR ANY CLASS OF CRIME with law enforcement.

vbspurs said...

Victoria- time was, the claim that foreign powers supported a candidate was a scurrilous rumor that was spread by the candidate's opponent, the source of ruinous public disapprobation. Nowadays, the Obama and their fellow-travelers seem to revel in their "choice of non-Americans around the world" status.

Well, recall that Senator John Kerry dropped broad hints that "foreign leaders" were clamouring with one voice for him to be elected president in 2004.

When pressed which leaders those were, he shut up faster than a Los Angeles sex cave orgy.

I'm hoping he meant then leaders Chirac and Schröder, and not Dinner-Jacket or Bashir Assad, but I guess we'll never know...

Either way, Simon, this support for Obama really does him less good than he suppposes.

Because, and though I can't point to any polls to show this as a truism, whatever the world wants for our leader, is the last person he will choose.

We don't want to sing the Internationale, thankyouverymuch. We're happy with the Stars & Stripes.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

And how about the failed Bush policy of going to war on borrowed money?

Yeah, a responsible President would put economic soundness before trivialities like self-defense.

The resulting deficits have driven down the dollar by 50%, making an American icon like Anheuser-Busch ripe for takeover by a Belgian swill producer called "InBev".

It's so true! For the first time in history, large American companies are being bought by foreign countries!

Not to mention running up the price of gas to $4.50 a gallon,

Yeah, Bush is so bad, he's even driven up the price of gas in Europe!

That's some bad governance there.

And those darn Republicans, always telling us we can't drill for oil in our own country, or build refineries, and keeping us dependent on foreign oil!

dealing the coup de grace to General Motors, which relied on SUV and light truck sales to stay afloat against Japanese competition.

Yes! Shame on Bush for enacting the suffocating regulation, union wages and burdensome taxes that make American car manufacturers not competitive.

And shame on him for passing all those CAFE standards and other regulations that encouraged car manufacturers to build SUVs in the first place!

The scurrilous rogue, in his greatest breach of executive powers to date, managed to force through all that regulation before he was even in office!

Pogo said...

It is a serious error to think that strategies based on deterrence or policing are going to be effective enough for dealing with jihadis.

In Iran, the eleventh grade textbooks teach Khomeini's view that: "if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

Those who crave martyrdom are unlikely to be deterred by the threat of imprisonment. Neither will the nuclear threat of Mutually Assured Destruction succeed ...as it is quite acceptable to them -even desirable-if we both should perish.

Amahdinejad, who poked his finger in Carter's eye, has spoken of the destruction of the US, England, and Israel. He would very much like to take his chances with Carter II, Obama.

Obama in essence and in fact counsels appeasement. But like Hitler in the 1930s, Stalin in the 1950s, Mao in the 1960s, Saddam in the 1990s we should begin to take seriously the words these leaders use. They mean what they say quite literally. They are not insane; they are ideologues.

Obama fails to recognize this core prinicple, which makes him a dangerously weak leader. Carter père was merely an embarrassment; Carter II will be a disaster.

Here, I am afraid, history will repeat itself, first as farce, then as tragedy.

veni vidi vici said...

"sometimes the more refrained, big picture over-view is exactly the most effective."

in the context of the series of attacks on American interests from at least the 1993 WTC bombing forward, through African embassies, Khobar, the Cole, etc., plus whatever background noise the federal spooks are monitoring at any time, it is not difficult to argue that, vis the comparable scaling of attacks on Spain, the US response to 9/11 was wholly appropriate and consistent with the "big picture overview."

Or are you equating Spain's situation as a global power (and lightning rod for challengers like AQ), or even its situation as against international terrorist movements, with that of the United States?

Note that the US response to groups like Ayers' terrorists in the 70's - a homegrown, domestic bunch fighting the government - was comparable to how Spain responds to its own domestic terrorist problems. Whether Spain's terrorists are all truly of the domestic stripe, or are only called that by a conflict-averse government, is something the Spaniards will have to live with.

former law student said...

Yeah, Bush is so bad, he's even driven up the price of gas in Europe!

Since 2002, the price of gas in the US has gone up 200%; the price of gas in Germany has gone up only 50%.

http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx?time=72

http://benzinpreis.de/statistik.phtml?o=7&display=normalbenzin2008

Shame on Bush for enacting the suffocating regulation, union wages and burdensome taxes that make American car manufacturers not competitive.

The biggest single cost of making a car in the US is employee health insurance. The rest of the industrial world gets better care at half to two-thirds the cost. That's why the Japanese and even the Canadians are kicking our asses.

holdfast said...

If we truly give law enforcement the tools it would need to go after terrorists effectively, then eventually those tools will be used on the rest of. I would prefer that not happen. I would like law enforcement to continue to do its job, protecting US citizens and other legal residents while also protecting the rights of citizens and other legal residents who are accused of crimes. Foreign Jihadis who wish to wage their cowardly war against civilization can suck on the business end of a JDAM or Hellfire missile, and if they are lucky enough to be allowed to surrender (which we should try to avoid happering) can enjoy their 3 square meals a day in the Caribean sun, or be transferred to the tender mercies of the Egyptian intelligence service.

former law student said...

It is a serious error to think that strategies based on deterrence or policing are going to be effective enough for dealing with jihadis.

It is a serious error to remain the boy crying Wolf. Why are we going it alone? We had the support of the rest of the free world after 9/11, but we have squandered that support ever since.

like Hitler in the 1930s, Stalin in the 1950s, Mao in the 1960s, Saddam in the 1990s

Hitler became popular largely because of German resentment for having their shitty economy sucked dry for reparations. France had punished Germany harshly for starting the war. A poke in the eye breeds resentment. Unlike with Saddam, we let Stalin and Mao alone as they starved and slaughtered their people, then Nixon cozied up to Mao at Kissinger's instigation. Were Nixon and Kissinger naifs?

Carter is an average guy who thought he was smarter than everyone around him. W. is an average guy who thought he was surrounding himself with people smarter than he is. Obama is a smart guy who will surround himself with smart people.

AJ Lynch said...

If Obama is going to argue its the Republicans fault Osama is still out there. And If Obama is OK with having election losers like Gore and Kerry making the case for him, that strategy should make McCain very very pleased.

Pogo said...

crying Wolf
If liberals are trying to argue that the jihadis are not a serious threat, then the democrats cannot be taken seriously in defense of this nation.

Why are we going it alone?
Cowardice on the part of feckless allies, using one-way multiculturalism as a mask. Janus figures, playing both sides of the field, ready to support the winner.

Were Nixon and Kissinger naifs?
To an extent, they were played. And your understanding of Hitler misses the larger ideological underpinnings, choosing to focus on the more minor complaint of excessive punishment.

Carter is an average guy who thought he was smarter than everyone around him.
As with Carter II, Obama.

We are in an existential battle. The question is whether we deserve to win. You and other Obama supporters think we need to expiate our guilt. I believe we do deserve to win, Obama? I don't think he does.

To hell with such cowardice, to hell with that kind of appeasement.

blake said...

Yeah, Bush is so bad, he's even driven up the price of gas in Europe!

Since 2002, the price of gas in the US has gone up 200%; the price of gas in Germany has gone up only 50%.


Right, mostly due to the dollar dropping in relative value. Bush never should have hired Greenspan!

The biggest single cost of making a car in the US is employee health insurance. The rest of the industrial world gets better care at half to two-thirds the cost. That's why the Japanese and even the Canadians are kicking our asses.

Yeah, we can only dream of having economic growth like Japan!

Well, shame on him, then, for enacting the policies that allowed employers to hide the income benefits they were giving to their employees in the form of health insurance, thus driving up the cost of health care for everyone else!

There's no escaping it! It's Bush's fault! Everything was perfect up until 2001 and everything will be perfect again in 2009, when Obama saves not only our pocketbooks, but our very souls!

blake said...

Not exactly alone.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Ah, the typical knee-jerk responses to Obama and the overall WOT that we see coming from Bush's few remaining defenders.

The fact is, many of the people we have "Captured" were not terrorists. Much more here.

The real world isn't a "24" episode.

blake said...

[conservative sounding handle] said...

[left wing talking point rebuttal]

[left wing link light on substantiation and heavy on editorializing]

[childish ad hominem]


{Excerpted: How to argue on the Internet, left-wing edition, Chapter 11: Rebuttal Templates]

Kirk Parker said...

"so that people are too busy getting rich to terrorize"

Good grief, MM, that's pure nonsense! Remember those doctors in England? Working for the NHS isn't exactly like being in private practice in the US, but they sure as heck weren't poor.

Seven Machos said...

Sorry to be late to the party but I have to chime in about Former Law Student's ridiculous dropping of the treaties regarding terrorism.

Dude, you don't know jack.

I saw the negotiations of those treaties. I was there. The Arab Group was against anything that made them remotely meaningful and, since total agreement is the only way to get anything done at the U.N., I can assure you that any treaty that ultimately came out of those negotiations was useless to the United States.

But it sounds good to you, right? It's a treaty after all. It must be great. They all are. Does it really matter what they say?

dick said...

FLS,

Carter is an average guy who thought he was smarter than everyone around him. W. is an average guy who thought he was surrounding himself with people smarter than he is. Obama is a smart guy who will surround himself with smart people.
6:30 PM


How many more people is Obama going to have to throw under the bus before you realize the man hasn't a clue how to pick advisors. And now he has just hired the one who ran Hillary's campaign into the ground to run his campaign. Great choice. How about that guy who talked about the trade with Canada - good man there as well. And then the usual suspects - Wright, Pfleger, Ayers, Davis, Rezko, Farrakhan. More good choices.

I still remember a friend telling me I should vote for Jimmy Carter because he was so smart and he would pick good people and solve our problems. Remember all those who told us how smart Hillary was - smartest woman in the world - what hoppened there?

Ofc. Krupke said...

On the subject of "creating more terrorists", what so few people seem to understand is that it's not so much how many people they get, but more importantly who. AQ does not have the same kind of training pipeline and infrastructure that we do, which means that any high-value losses are not necessarily made up by recruitment.

An action that theoretically "creates more terrorists" can still be worthwhile if that action takes out more experienced and hard-to-replace personnel. I'm not even talking about leaders here: more the mid-level technical types, the bomb-makers and such.

Think of it this way: if SEAL Team Six were all killed in a freak plane crash, would it somehow be a net gain if we recruited twice that number of untrained 18-year-olds to replace them?

Trevor Jackson said...

Dick said, "And now he has just hired the one who ran Hillary's campaign into the ground to run his campaign."

What are you talking about? Obama didn't hire Mark Penn. He's hired Patti Solis Doyle to be his VP's chief of staff.

Fen said...

I still remember a friend telling me I should vote for Jimmy Carter because he was so smart and he would pick good people and solve our problems. Remember all those who told us how smart Hillary was - smartest woman in the world - what hoppened there?

And lets not forget - we had a Rhodes Scholar in the White House diddling with the help while Al Queda plotted 9-11.

Re Bush: yes, he's a horrible public speaker. The Left thinks that means he's stupid, which speaks more to their lack of intelligence than his.

rightwingprof said...

"Here's another lovely example of how ineffective legal systems can be when dealing with terrorists."

Yes, and this is exactly what happens when courts intrude into matters of war -- and why US courts of the past did not, because they realized this sort of thing would happen. And it has begun (link): A terrorist who killed US soldiers is now petitioning to have charges dropped because his "rights" weren't read to him.

This is why despite being an academic, or perhaps because, I believe we need a Constitutional amendment prohibiting anyone who has ever held an academic appointment from any office, elected or appointed. The problem with academics is that they really do not live in the real world. I realize this is a cliche, but it's true. To an academic, everything can be abstracted and tossed about on the table, as Ann's post on the idiotic SCOTS decision yesterday demonstrates, where she does exactly that. Yet Ann, this decision is not something to be abstracted or discussed in some academic circle: It has the very real possibility of costing very real lives. As in blood. American blood. I'm not going after our blog hostess. All academics are like this: It's why we became academics. But when people who have no connection to reality pass laws, real people pay in blood for their interesting, academic decisions.

Here is an example of somebody so completely out of touch with reality that he utters unsubstantiatable nonsense:

"Obama is a smart guy who will surround himself with smart people."

First, please cite evidence that Obama is a "smart guy." I have yet to see any. He does well with pre-prepared speeches, if babbling about vacuities like "hope" and "change" is doing well, and babbles like an incoherent idiot when he actually has to speak. He has no political intelligence. If he did, he would never have made those remarks in SF. He has no real work experience, and can't even describe what his volunteer work was (that's because he didn't do anything). Calling Obama an empty suit is an insult to suits everywhere. He isn't qualified to be dog catcher, and I'm sure wouldn't be able to do the job.

former law student said...

(link): A terrorist who killed US soldiers is now petitioning to have charges dropped because his "rights" weren't read to him.

That's funny. At the link I read how a detainee was forced at the threat of punishment to repeat his inquisitors' story, despite the manifest impossibility of a blinded man who had been shot in the back to kill anybody.

I wouldn't have believed that our military lied about what happened in Afghanistan till the Pat Tillman story broke.

In M. Khadr's case, the authorities' dominant scenario suggested Mr. Khadr had been the only al-Qaeda suspect still alive in the 2002 firefight when someone tossed a hand grenade that fatally wounded a U.S. serviceman.

Mr. Kuebler says Mr. Khadr, in those early months, gave a statement that not only reflected that, but also said he'd tossed the grenade after eyeing the serviceman treat another U.S. soldier for battlefield wounds.

But as time went on, his statements changed to reflect a new scenario that emerged after the authorities realized Mr. Khadr's gunshot injuries showed he'd been shot in the back, and shrapnel injuries to his eyes showed it was unlikely he could see anything.

"So, we know Omar was giving false statements," Mr. Kuebler said in an interview.

In any eventual trial, defence strategy will be to discredit all of Mr. Khadr's detention statements, which Mr. Kuebler believes are the backbone of the prosecution's evidence against him.

rightwingprof said...

"That's funny. At the link I read"

I suggest you read it again, or sue your public school for letting you remain illiterate.