The Guardian asked me for my take on a Kenneth Roth column, an illogical and nonsensical leftwing piece on Obama's perverse miscarriage of justice -- the civilian trials of war criminals. The notorious Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993, "has led the politicization and erosion of universal human rights as a moral force."
I responded with a rebuttal to Roth an hour or so before the Obama verdict came in, and in the words of one editor, "well, your opening paragraphs prove prophetic -- would you like to update?"
And update I did ......... and to The Guardian's credit, few tweaks were made (eg, substituting 'al-Qaida terrorist' for 'Muslim terrorist') and they ran the whole thing:
The lesson of Ghailani's trial fiasco Pamela Geller, The Guardian
Al-Qaida declared war on the US in 1998, so let's not be moral idiots: try their combatants in Guantánamo, not civilian courts
A woman is carried from the rubble of the US embassy in Nairobi in August 1998 after it was bombed by al-Qaida. At his trial in New York, 17 November 2010, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was found guilty on a single charge of conspiracy for his role in the attack. Photograph: Khalil Senosi/AP
On Wednesday, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first Guantánamo detainee to be tried in civilian court in New York, was acquitted of all but one charge, that of conspiracy for his role in jihadist terror bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam, which killed 224 people. His acquittal is the first poisonous fruit of Obama's policy of treating acts of war as law enforcement issues. It also shows what is wrong with doing so.
Apparently, the evidence charging him with 224 counts of murder could not be used in court, because "coercive" techniques were used to get information from him. The jury did find him guilty of "conspiracy to destroy government buildings". So, the al-Qaida terrorist killed 224 people and he's guilty of… destruction of public property?
This is a serious setback for the US – another breathtaking failure on the part of the Obama administraton, yet again putting Americans and national security at risk.
Yet, former prosecutor and executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth has argued that such trials, including the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, should be in New York, since "the victims' families have a right to witness these trials." Yet, on 11 September 2001, all of America was under attack, not just the 9/11 families – it was an act of war against the United States of America.
Roth claims that "by choosing a federal court over the discredited military commissions, the US would show that it values the rule of law, trying even those accused of the worst crimes in a system that is broadly recognised as fair." In reality, by choosing a federal court, we are once again refusing to address the root cause. By pretending that these attacks were not intended to take down America, and work toward overthrowing the government and installing a Sharia-based Islamic government, we yet again surrender to Islamic supremacism and imperialism.
There have been close to 20,000 documented Islamist-inspired attacks worldwide since 9/11; all were inspired by the same Islamic jihadi ideology and given the imprimatur of a Muslim cleric. This is war. It takes incomprehensible delusion and a denial of objective reality to think that combatants in that war are comparable to civilian criminals and should be tried in the same way.
Yet, Roth contends that civilian trials are necessary because "any verdict by the military commissions will inevitably be tainted by the stigma of Guantánamo, where they are held." Barack Obama also claimed, in May 2009, that there was "no question that Guantánamo set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world."
I disagree. If America prosecutes those who kept this country safe from people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as Obama seems prepared to do, that would set back our moral authority. If America turns her back on the jihad against women, Christians, Jews and non-believers, that would set back America's moral authority.
What's wrong with Guantánamo? Allegations of torture there have been politically motivated, spurious, and pale in comparison to Saddam Hussein at his most lenient. The idea that it is a bad thing that Gitmo is holding jihadists who would slaughter thousands if given the opportunity is evidence of dhimmitude and surrender to the enemy narrative, and to the disinformation that the enemy has been producing.
Moreover, detaining enemy combatants without trial is entirely consistent with the "rule of law" that applies in wartime. Indeed, the Obama Justice Department has found itself making just this argument, albeit without fanfare. In short, indefinite detention at Gitmo "destroyed our credibility" only with Bush-deranged leftists – isn't it amazing how uninterested in our credibility they've suddenly become now that their guy is accountable?
Some of Roth's attempts to justify New York civilian trials for jihadis are bizarre; others simply wrong. "Some opponents of holding the trials in New York," says Roth, "cite purported security concerns, but these fears are overblown." Really? Only if you consider human life worthless, as our enemy does. Roth also says that "the war framework is wrong for such awful crimes since it allows the suspects to glorify themselves as combatants."
Actually, a civilian trial is much more likely than a military tribunal to turn into a dog-and-pony show. In a civilian court in New York, the mass-murdering jihadis would not be on trial; Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the military would be the real defendants. Such trials will become veritable jihadi circuses, in which jihadists can propagandise to the whole world in courtrooms choked with reporters.
It would also be much easier for them to game the system. Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted the jihadists who bombed the World Trade Centre in 1993, recalled that one of them told another: "Tell them, 'I don't know. I'm not talking to you. Bring my lawyer.' Never talk to them. Not a word. 'My lawyer' – that's it! That's what's so beautiful about America.