Free Markets, Free People

Security

How inept is big government?

I think the signs are clear that most of big government displays varying degrees of ineptness, from slightly to completely.  And over the years, the entire scale of government has moved relentlessly to the “completely” side of things.

Here’s a simple example of why few have any trust in government and even fewer believe what it says anymore.  In this case it has to do with security and immigration.  It has to do with basic competence.  It has to do with following and enforcing the law.  And it also has to do with a department of government which has done none of those things:

The Homeland Security Department has lost track of more than 1 million people who it knows arrived in the U.S. but who it cannot prove left the country, according to an audit Tuesday that also found the department probably won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system.

The findings were revealed as Congress debates an immigration bill, and the Government Accountability Office’s report could throw up another hurdle because lawmakers in the House and Senate have said that any final deal must include a workable system to track entries and exits and cut down on so-called visa overstays.

The government does track arrivals, but is years overdue in setting up a system to track departures — a goal set in a 1996 immigration law and reaffirmed in 2004, but which has eluded Republican and Democratic administrations.

“DHS has not yet fulfilled the 2004 statutory requirement to implement a biometric exit capability, but has planning efforts under way to report to Congress in time for the fiscal year 2016 budget cycle on the costs and benefits of such a capability at airports and seaports,” GAO investigators wrote.

Why has it eluded both Republic and Democratic administrations? Basic incompetence coupled with bureaucratic resistance. A combination which leads to ossification – something we see more and more of as government grows more vast and inept. Also note that many of the problems we suffer today are of government’s making. Certainly if we have a means of logging arrivals into the country, having a system that tracks their exit just couldn’t be that tough to do. And DHS has had the mandate to do that since … 1996. 17 years. 17 years and nada.  Result?  We have no idea how many foreigners we have illegally in this country right now.  But they can track a Pakistani Taliban for days on end via drones.

Of course none of this should surprise anyone, because the federal government isn’t now nor has it ever really been that interested in enforcing immigration laws. When it does do so it is almost by whim.

Like I said, this is just one example of the legion of examples where big government exacerbates problems by being inept or just intransigent (or both) in the execution and enforcement of laws.  Executive departments really don’t pay that much attention to either the law or Congress.  And, as usual, there are no consequences for doing so.  The department charged with homeland security during a war on terror has lost track of a million foreigners that have traveled to this country.

And no one seems to care.

~McQ

More Fast and Furious revelations

Business Insider has the details.   As the probe widens, more and more of the botched and frankly stupid operation becomes known:

The WSJ reports today that federal authorities are now investigating why the U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix — the same office that oversaw Fast and Furious — released Jean Baptiste Kingery after he confessed to providing military-style weapons to the now-defunct La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.

Kingery, who was arrested and released in June 2010, confessed to manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) using grenade components from the U.S. He also admitted to helping the cartel convert semi-automatic rifles into machine guns.

Mexican criminal organizations are increasingly using these military-style weapons as the cartels’ escalate their wars against the government and one another.

Despite Kingery’s confession, and over loud protestations from the arresting ATF officers, the U.S. Attorney’s office let Kingery go within hours of his arrest.

This has led the Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s office to attempt to push back:

The Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s office denies that it declined to prosecute the case, saying that it wanted to continue surveillance. The office alternatively told investigators that ATF agents wanted to make Kingery an informant, but lost contact with him within weeks of his release.

Prosecutors involved in the case also accuse ATF agents of devising a failed sting that allowed Kingery to take hundreds of grenade parts across the border in the months about six months prior to his arrest.

Kingery had been hauled in by ATF agents and confronted with the evidence and the U.S. Attorney’s office thinks he’s going to go back to work and it’ll be business as usual?  Really?  I guess they figured out that wasn’t the case when they “lost contact with him within weeks of his release”.

Botched?  That’s being kind.  And notice too the attempt to distract by the U.S. Attorney with the “failed sting”.  It seems to me if that’s the case and six months later the agents had the goods on Kingery, it was probably a good arrest at that point.  But apparently the U.S. Attorney there knows better, huh?

This is Clown College stuff.  How badly can an organization screw up an operation that was absolutely stupid to begin with?   Obviously worse than we thought.  The level of stupidity, incompetence and outright dumb decisions wrapped up in this case are staggering.   It was a dumb idea to begin with and it was compounded with incompetence, poor execution and it inevitably ended up killing a US agent and untold Mexicans.

The question is, who at what level knew about this in the administration.  There are those who believe Eric Holder is certainly knew and there’s speculation that the man in the White House may have known and condoned the operation as well.

The Fast and the Furious case has escalated over the past weeks, with news that at least three White House national security officials knew about the gunrunning program.

Emails obtained by the Committee last week show contact between the head of the Phoenix ATF and Kevin O’Reilly, then-director of North American affairs, about the operation. The White House confirmed that O’Reilly briefed Dan Restrepo, senior director for the Western Hemisphere, and Greg Gatjanis, director of counterterrorism and narcotics.

The emails, first reported by the LA Times, do not indicate that the White House aides knew about the more controversial tactics of letting the guns "walk." There is also no indication that the information went beyond those three officials.

Yeah, that sort of stuff never makes it into security briefings for the President, does it?

And you can already see the attempt to limit the damage if it is finally proven the President was aware of the operation (and tacitly approved it) with the line that says the White House security aides didn’t know “about the more controversial tactics of letting the guns “walk.””   That was sort of the whole point of the operation, wasn’t it?

Lots of interesting revelations yet to come methinks.  Whether or not the press will cover it in any depth remains to be seen, but in my estimation, this is a large enough scandal that at least Eric Holder’s job ought to be in jeopardy.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood mourns bin Laden

Perhaps it is becoming clearer to even those in deep denial that that the Muslim Brotherhood is "moderate" only if the term is redefined into meaninglessness.  The death of Osama bin Laden provides another indication of the MB’s true character:

But in its first public statement on the killing of bin Laden, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood used the honorific term "sheikh" to refer to the al-Qaeda leader. It also accused Western governments of linking Islam and terrorism, and defended "resistance" against the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as "legitimate."

The Muslim Brotherhood’s response to bin Laden’s death may finally end the mythology — espoused frequently in the U.S. — that the organization is moderate or, at the very least, could moderate once in power. This is, after all, precisely how Muslim Brothers describe their creed — "moderate," as opposed to al-Qaeda, which is radical. "Moderate Islam means not using violence, denouncing terrorism, and not working with jihadists," said Muslim Brotherhood youth activist Khaled Hamza, for whom the organization’s embrace of "moderate Islam" was the primary reason he joined.

Yet the Muslim Brotherhood’s promise that its "moderation" means rejecting violence includes a gaping exception: the organization endorses violence against military occupations, which its leaders have told me include Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Palestine — in other words, nearly every major conflict on the Eurasian continent.

It should end the mythology, but it won’t.  There are those on the left to invested in the belief that they are a moderate force that they won’t back down even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.  This is your “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood’s reaction to the death of bin Laden:

"The whole world, and especially the Muslims, have lived with a fierce media campaign to brand Islam as terrorism and describe the Muslims as violent by blaming the September 11th incident on al-Qaeda." It then notes that "Sheikh Osama bin Laden" was assassinated alongside "a woman and one of his sons and with a number of his companions," going on to issue a rejection of violence and assassinations. It goes on to ominously declare that the Muslim Brotherhood supports "legitimate resistance against foreign occupation for any country, which is the legitimate right guaranteed by divine laws and international agreements," and demands that the U.S., the European Union, and NATO quickly "end the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people." It closes by demanding that the U.S. "stop its intelligence operations against those who differ with it, and cease its interference in the internal affairs of any Arab or Muslim country."

As Eric Trager says, the statement issued by the MB is “vintage bin Laden”:

[I]t’s Muslim lands, not America, that are under attack; it’s Muslims, not American civilians, who are the ultimate victims; and, despite two American presidents’ genuine, effusive promises to the contrary, Islam is the target. It’s an important indicator that despite its increased responsibility in post-Mubarak Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood may well remain deeply hostile toward even the one of the most basic and defensible of American interests in the Middle East — that of securing Americans from terrorism.

In Egypt, at least, this is the result of the “Arab Spring”.  As predicted, the best organized and most ruthless are winning out.  And the result will not advance the peace process in the region.  On the contrary, “moderate” has come to be defined by bin Laden, not by any recognizable dictionary.  The Muslim Brotherhood has fooled a lot of so-called “scholars” into believing them to be a benign force for good and interested in democratic reform.  Instead, they’ll most likely find out that they’re anything but benign and they are only interested in democracy if it advances their agenda.  And that agenda is anything but moderate.

~McQ

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TSA screens people AFTER they get off train?

This allegedly happened at the “Savannah train station” (I assume that means Savannah GA), after passengers had come OFF the train on Feb. 13, 2011:

Here’s a description [sic] of what you’re seeing  from the person who uploaded the video:

The only bad thing on our trip was TSA was at the Savannah train station. There were about 14 agents pulling people inside the building and coralling everyone in a roped area AFTER you got OFF THE TRAIN! This made no sense!!! Poor family in front of us! 9 year old getting patted down and wanded. They groped our people too and were very unprofessional. I am all about security, but when have you ever been harassed and felt up getting OFF a plane? Shouldnt they be doing that getting ON??? And they wonder why so many people are mad at them.

Make sense to you?

[HT: Me Again]

~McQ

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Giffords shooting prompts proposed limits to freedom and hypocritical recriminations

Well, as you can imagine, the Giffords shooting has sucked all the oxygen out of just about every other subject. And, as you can probably further imagine, the "let’s make a law" crowd is busily at work trying to again limit our freedoms in the name of "security".

We have a representative from PA who wants to outlaw "crosshairs" in political advertising. I have to wonder what part of "Congress shall make no law" in the 1st Amendment and political speech he doesn’t understand? Perhaps the word "no" as in none, zip, zero, nada?

The typical overreaction is underway.   As is the inevitable.  Gun control pops its ugly head up again as a New York Congresswoman prepares to introduce legislation banning high-capacity ammunition clips. 

And then there’s Paul Krugman.  The historically blind and deaf Paul Krugman.  Check out these opening two paragraphs in a piece entitled “Climate of Hate”:

When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?

Put me in the latter category. I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since the final stages of the 2008 campaign. I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again. The Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion: in April 2009 an internal report warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise, with a growing potential for violence.

Notice anything missing in his trip down memory lane?  Yeah, 8 years of inflammatory rhetoric and what he now labels as “hate” directed at George Bush and the right.  I’m sure you’re not surprised – this sort of memory loss is endemic on the left.  The memory hole, which they seem unable to acknowledge, is why most on the right take the likes of Paul Krugman and their hate claims with the grain of salt they deserve.  When their rhetoric was pointed out to them, their retort was “dissention is patriotism”.

Note too that the economist turned political hack continues to insist, in the face of almost conclusive evidence to the contrary, that the violence visited on Rep. Giffords was the result of the “hatred” from the right.  And he uses the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center’s report (hidden in the just as discredited Homeland Security report) as “proof” of his claims.

Krugman must have sensed he’s on thin ice because a few paragraphs in he throws this out:

It’s true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn’t mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.

Holy Mars and Venus, Batman – is this guy living on the same planet we’re living on?  Of course it can be an “isolated event” and it certainly can have nothing to do with the so-called “national climate”.  The guy was a loon.  A nutcase.  He has serious mental problems.  He’s a yahoo who became fixated on Rep. Giffords for no apparent logical reason other than she was a local politician.  Trying to warp this into something it isn’t, however, is suddenly becoming the pastime of the left.  Well, much of it anyway (there are indeed islands of sanity out there, but they’re becoming less prevalent).

Krugman then attempts to whitewash the left’s very recent past by claiming you’ll mostly hear only caustic remarks and mocking at worst. Michelle Malkin neatly disposes of that myth.

He concludes:

So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?

If Arizona promotes some real soul-searching, it could prove a turning point. If it doesn’t, Saturday’s atrocity will be just the beginning.

What then, as evidence continues to mount supporting it, if it was indeed a “mere act of a deranged individual” Mr. Krugman.  Will we get an Emily Litella like “never mind” from you?

This is the latest in a long line of efforts by the left to shut its opposition up.  Political correctness has finally begun to wear thin as most have now recognized it for what it is – an attempt to control speech.  This effort is nothing less than that.  It is the claim that speech must be modified because others who are deranged might act on it, even out of context. But that lack of memory about their own toxic speech and their spirited defense of it (again, see Malkin’s listing of the left’s happy talk about George Bush) smacks of such hypocrisy that the word is almost insufficient to define them at this point.

Freedom and democracy demand risk to work.  They must not be held prisoner to speech codes and “security”.  We must not let the priorities that underpin freedom be chipped away or removed by a bunch of scared rabbits.  If Congress wants to beef up security around its members, I can understand that.  However, that’s as far as I’m willing to go.  Restricting the freedoms of the rest of us because of some nut is just flat unacceptable.

And by the way, Mr. Krugman – go see a doctor.  I’m told the  type of memory loss you’re suffering is the first sign of senile dementia.  Have it checked out, will you?

~McQ

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3 million had access to diplomatic cables?

If you’re wondering why Wikileaks has been able to obtain military reports on Iraq and Afghanistan as well as diplomatic cables for the last 10 or so years, wonder no more.

According to the UK’s Guardian, up to 3 million people had potential access to those archives on the government’s Siprnet system.

More than 3 million US government personnel and soldiers, many extremely junior, are cleared to have potential access to this material, even though the cables contain the identities of foreign informants, often sensitive contacts in dictatorial regimes. Some are marked "protect" or "strictly protect".

To me that’s a phenomenal revelation.  If, like me, you were wondering how a Private First Class like Bradley Manning had access to this sort of information, now you know.  Had I been aware of the number who had potential access to these files, I’d have said it isn’t a matter of “if” but “when” a leak would occur.  Allowing that amount of access to information marked “Secret” and “NoForn”, short for “no foreign dissemination”, as well as the names of highly sensitive sources and contacts is a intelligence disaster waiting to happen.

A State Department Spokesman claims it was a reaction to pre-9/11 intelligence sharing – or lack there of:

"The 9/11 attacks and their aftermath revealed gaps in intra-governmental information sharing. Since the attacks of 9/11, the US government has taken significant steps to facilitate information sharing. These efforts were focused on giving diplomatic, military, law enforcement and intelligence specialists quicker and easier access to more data to more effectively do their jobs."

He added: "We have been taking aggressive action in recent weeks and months to enhance the security of our systems and to prevent the leak of information."

While I certainly don’t at all condone the Wikileaks publication of these cables, I have to tell you, given this new information, that I’m not at all surprised it has occurred.  In fact, I’m rather surprised it has taken this long.  And, of course, the damage being done is incalculable to US interests and foreign policy – not to mention those contacts and sources named.  Wikileaks claims to have safeguarded that information, however, that’s a hollow promise.  We have no idea who has seen these archives in full and what they may have done with the information.  Any present contacts or sources have to fear for their lives and the likelihood of developing new sources and contacts just took one hell of a shot in the head.

Prior to 9/11, human intelligence (HUMINT) was an area of extreme weakness for the US.  We’d made a conscious decision decades earlier to rely on technical means to gather intelligence – communications intercepts, spy satellites, etc.  But, with some very notable intelligence failures (India’s nuclear weapons, Cole Bombing, embassy bombings, 9/11), we again understood the critical importance of HUMINT and have been attempting to again establish networks around the world.   Obviously, the strictest secrecy must be maintained in order for that to work.  Leaks like this could completely destroy those new networks and make impossible our ability to establish new ones.

No matter what you think of Wikileaks, and I’m not at all pleased or happy with what they’ve done, the decision to put this information on a network on which 3 million had potential access to the information borders on criminal.  Sharing information is one thing – it should be done, but it must be done intelligently.  This wasn’t about sharing – it was about a structural failure to safeguard critical information in a manner in which it should have been safeguarded.

The fact that these cables are being published around the world right now isn’t just the fault of Wikileaks, but a government which allowed that information to be easily accessed by those who had no reason or need to access it.  The result of such poor management is now evident for all to see.

~McQ

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Taliban attack in US imminent?

There’s apparently corroborated intelligence which says there’s a Pakistani Taliban operative within the US preparing to stage an attack similar to the Times Square plot that failed some months ago.

I would assume the newest terrorist has undergone much more intensive bomb construction training than did Faisal Shahzad.

Of course, making bombs isn’t particularly difficult nor does it take exceptional brain power or technical knowledge.  Any fanatic boob can be taught how to do it.

Frankly I’ve been surprised that we haven’t suffered a number of these sorts of attacks.  Perhaps it is because in the past, the terrorists have attempted to send in one of their own from Pakistan or Afghanistan.  In the case of the latter, unless extensive cultural training was done prior to the insertion of such an operative, he’d be like an alien landed on a new planet.  And then there are all the visa and travel difficulties to contend with.

Nope, the way you do this is how the Taliban is proceeding at the moment.  Recruit citizens from the target country to do the dirty work.  Like the 8 “Germans” who were just killed in Pakistan.  Or, Faisal Shahzad for that matter.

That’s probably the biggest hurdle – getting someone in country who can operate without raising suspicion.  They used to tell stories in South Korea about how easy it was for authorities there to identify North Korean agents – because of the culture they came from, they were just obvious.  And they didn’t last long in South Korea (any number of them defecting when they got a quick taste of the “decadent” South).

I don’t believe defecting is a particular concern, but it is a pretty fair surmisal that a rural Afghan would not fit in particularly well in the US culture.   So stage 2, that which is apparently underway now, is to recruit those who can move easily through the culture and society – US citizens of the Muslim faith they can radicalize.

That, of course, significantly narrows the group that authorities most likely have to concern themselves with, but it also smacks of “profiling” – a sin worse than seeing Americans blown up by a terrorist, apparently.  Of course profiling has been used successfully many times in chasing down serial killers and the like, but woe be unto authorities that admit it might be useful in chasing down a terrorist.

Anyway, the other aspect of this is the availability of bomb making substances and the ease by which they can be obtained.  Certainly after the OKC bombing some steps were taken to better account for the obvious substances that can be used, but in reality, so many bomb making substances are in such wide use that unless you had unlimited manpower and unlimited time to follow up every purchase of propane, fertilizer or other bomb making substances, the probability of someone gathering the right stuff in the right quantities is high.  That too is certainly better accomplished by a citizen than by an alien.

Finally, there’s opportunity.  The bad guys want to make a bloody statement.  That means a mass casualty scenario.  The opportunities for that are almost endless in a country of this size in which large crowds gather routinely for any of a number of reasons.  This is where constant intelligence and analysis are necessary to constantly monitor those opportunities as they occur and narrow them down to a small group of “most likely”.  Not an easy job. 

If, for instance, intelligence says that the terrorist is most likely to use a device like the Times Square (failed) Bomber, then he’s going to need an outdoor venue, not an indoor one – so you cross off all the indoor venues in the time frame.  Since it is likely to have to be vehicle mounted, perhaps outdoor venues where the crowds are safely away from the streets can be crossed off as well.  So maybe, for that day, they narrow it down to a couple of political rallies held in parking lots, or similar scenarios. 

That’s all good for that day only.  Next day starts the process all over again – in addition to continually attempting to identify and find the terrorist and his network (he’s most likely going to have some in support and logistics roles as well).  One needle in a multitude of haystacks.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand – if this is an effort by the Taliban, it seems ill timed given the reports of high level talks between the Taliban and Afghan government aimed at stopping the Afghan war.  Perhaps they are of the opinion that a successful attack here (and the promise of more if the US doesn’t get behind the effort) might actually help their cause.

Having watched the American people react to such attacks in the past, I’m not so sure that’s a great read on how to proceed.  Of course they could be aiming this at the leadership here which may be much more influenced by such an attack in the way the Taliban would prefer than the people.

Bottom line: be aware.  Per the intelligence out there somewhere someone is plotting American deaths in the US.  Nothing particularly new there and nothing which should stop you from doing what you want.  But understand as well, that this is the world we live in, keep your eyes and ears open and have a situational awareness about you that is tuned to security.  I’m not trying to scare anyone – heck you risk you life every day when you drive to work.  I’m just saying that this is and will be our on going reality for years to come.   May as well get used to it.

~McQ

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Why is Janet Napalitano still Secretary of DHS?

Tim Cavanaugh wonders if her latest utterances (not much different than her previous ones) are enough to finally get her fired?  I don’t know, but to say I have no confidence in her abilities would be an understatement.  Every time she has opened her mouth to comment on a security situation, she’s been wrong.  As Cavanaugh notes, that’s a reason to be concerned:

But it’s more than a joke because not all the people making those wildly wrong claims about Shahzad’s background and motivation were pundits or minor potentates like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The “one-off” attack line came from the highest official in the American government charged with preventing attacks exactly like Shahzad’s: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

It was her department which released the confidential memo, essentially a republishing of the scare-mongering Southern Poverty Law Center’s dubious assessment of supposed right-wing hate groups, in which DHS warned against “returning veterans” being a threat.  It has appeared, at least to many, that she is more concerned about the possibility of a domestic, right-wing problem than facing the facts that the recent threats and failed bombing attempts have all come from international Islamic terrorists.

This is an obvious politicization of her office. (Napolitano’s favored targets — health care protesters and disgruntled veterans — are distinguished not by their propensity toward violence but by their opposition to the administration.) But if you believe in the necessity of a Department of Homeland Security, every day Napolitano is in charge of it creates an actual risk to life and property. Napolitano has a positive burden of proof: She needs to demonstrate some understanding of how to do her job, or she needs to be fired, for the security of the United States and the safety of the American people.

I have to agree – at every opportunity she’s downplayed the real and emphasized that which hasn’t materialized yet. She seems, like much of the left, to be obsessed with the possibility of domestic right-wing violence with little or no evidence of its existence.  That speaks to me as politicizing the problem based on an agenda.  We don’t need a politically driven hack in the highest domestic security position in the nation.  Perhaps it’s time for President Obama to say “heckofa job, Nappy” and help her transition into a less demanding profession – that of a retired politician, or perhaps a political science professor at a backwoods college somewhere in the NorthEast.

~McQ

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Democrats – giving “your papers please” a new twist

Sometimes I just love the Democrats.  After fomenting a near meltdown over the Arizona immigration law, with charges of nazism and cries of “show me you papers!” flying hither and yon, the Democrats introduce an immigration framework with what?

Improved papers, of course.

Yes, the Dems screwed the pooch and included a national ID card in their proposed legislation.  And a biometric one at that.   As someone characterized it, it’s a “super Social Security card”.  Remember when you were assured that your SS card/number was not for identification purposes and never would be.  Well Bunky, that was as true as most of the promises politicians make.

Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.

Heh … how do Democrats kill the momentum working in their favor in an issue which might actually help them in November?

Totally misunderstand the point.

For once, I’m in complete agreement with the ACLU who wasted no time in savaging the plan:

“Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy — one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel.

Oh, and the Gestapo.

~McQ

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Military tribunal for KSM probable result (update)

Apparently the White House is about to bow to the inevitable and prosecute Khalid Sheik Mohammed by military tribunal:

President Obama’s advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

The president’s advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. While Obama has favored trying some terrorism suspects in civilian courts as a symbol of U.S. commitment to the rule of law, critics have said military tribunals are the appropriate venue for those accused of attacking the United States.

I’ve never understood why only civilian courts were considered to be a symbol of the US commitment to the rule of law. The military tribunal system now in use was created by an act of Congress, signed into law by the president and vetted by the Supreme Court (which, as I recall, made Congress change a few things before it okayed the procedure). So how is its use somehow the abandonment of the rule of law?

Of course it’s not. What this is about is a petulant and mistaken insistence, at least in this case, that the previous administration preferred to operate outside the law.

What they’re about to admit, if indeed that’s the course of action they decide on, is the proper venue in which to try terrorists that have declared war on our nation is via military tribunal. That’s also a tacit admission that their’s isn’t a criminal conspiracy to be handled in civilian court, but instead an act of war to be handled in the appropriate military legal venue.

All this after 14 months of chasing their tail, trying to pound a square legal peg in a round hole.  Wasn’t it Obama complaining about these people not receiving a speedy trial?

Heck of a job, Eric.

UPDATE: Andy McCarthy at NRO thinks this is all a compromise to finally get the backing (and funding) necessary to close GITMO.  SLATE agrees, citing the story above:

If Obama accepts the likely recommendation of his advisers, the White House may be able to secure from Congress the funding and legal authority it needs to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and replace it with a facility within the United States.

Any guess as to who this is aimed at? Does the name Lindsey Graham ring a bell? Says McCarthy:

The real agenda here is to close Gitmo. That’s the ball to keep your eye on. The Post is trying to soften the opposition to shuttering the detention camp by portraying beleaguered, reasonable Obama as making a great compromise that will exasperate the Left.  The idea is to strengthen Sen. Lindsey Graham’s hand in seeking reciprocal compromise from our side.

This, however, is a matter of national security, not horse-trading over a highway bill. You don’t agree to do a stupid thing that endangers the country just because your opposition has magnanimously come off its insistence that you do two stupid things that endanger the country.

Bold emphasis mine – they’re the two key points in what McCarthy says. So let’s make it clear – KSM should be tried by a military tribunal and those trials for him and others should be held at Gitmo. As originally planned.

~McQ

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