Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Gosh darn, I feel great to live in a country that gives full constitutional rights to a foreign national who, on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, was tackled by passengers and crew as he reportedly was trying to blow up the plane.
If a terrorist fails to blow up a plane, he should get a court-appointed attorney. My big concern is that if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab keeps telling the FBI there are others like him in Yemen, he may not get a fair trial.
After all, if U.S. authorities treated such a man as an enemy -- if they interrogated him to glean information that could stop other planned attacks, as promised by the leader of al-Qaida in Yemen -- then that would make Americans just like the terrorists.
Like Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., I support the Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act, which would make it possible for political activists to sue telephone companies that cooperated with national intelligence officials under the Terrorist Surveillance Program. They must be made an example.
As Dodd said, "We make our nation safer when we eliminate the false choice between liberty and security." President Obama framed that notion a different way when he spoke in April of "the false choice between our security and our ideals." Because if we have to choose between security and our ideals, after another big attack, our ideals will crumble.
Rand terrorism expert Brian Jenkins told a Senate committee in November that U.S. authorities foiled eight domestic terrorist attacks in 2009, while failing to stop shootings against military personnel in Arkansas and Fort Hood, Texas. But that's no reason for Obama to pull back on his promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay and repatriate more detainees abroad.
True, the Defense Intelligence Agency figured in April that one out of seven released Gitmo detainees were "confirmed or suspected of re-engaging in terrorist activities." Stuff happens. If newly freed detainees end up in an al-Qaida training camp, well, that's the cost of making America look nicer.
When Obama said Monday that the American people "should remain vigilant," I had to wonder: Is he turning into George W. Bush? If you ask me, it's that attitude that sparks terrorism abroad.
That's why Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stopped using the phrase "war on terror." To stop terrorist attacks.
It didn't take long for Napolitano to retract her Sunday statement to CNN that "the system worked." As she said, the remark was "taken out of context." Really.
And you can't blame her for telling CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley it would be "inappropriate to speculate as to whether" Abdulmutallab had ties to al-Qaida. Remember that after Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, some pundits were happy to blame not Islamic extremism but war-related post-traumatic stress disorder -- even though Hasan had never served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
When Bush was in office, we hammered him on his failure to grant U.S. civil liberties to foreign terrorists. Now we're stuck with our 2004 and 2008 campaign rhetoric. You see, the system does work. Until it doesn't.
COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM
See Other Political Commentary
See Other Commentary by Debra J. Saunders
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.