The news that admitted terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammad will face a civilian trial in New York City has proven, once again, the naïve and hypocritical character of the Democratic Party, and once more encouraged the enemies of democracy. Truly we must seem fools to treat demons as though they were men!
The question of how to deal with terrorists has always been controversial, but of late it has resolved itself in two ways. Some consider terrorists to be criminals, whose fate should be resolved in civilian court, while others consider terrorists to be undeserving of the rights of citizens, and therefore their fate rests with the men of force, the military. It is important to understand from the outset that these resolutions are made not only by Americans, but by all nations and peoples forced to address such monsters.
The first paragraph of the American Constitution identifies the goals of the nation:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity“
The General Welfare
Listed in that order. The rights and powers described in the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, are accorded to and for American citizens and no other persons. Those who come to this nation as foreigners to do harm to this nation and its people, and those who plan nefarious acts from afar against us, have no claim to the protections and rights of the people they despise. Were these enemies agents of some nation which wished us harm, their rights would be defined and observed according to their nation’s laws and our nation’s observation of the protocols of such laws. Terrorists, as a rule, abandon nation and country in order to act independently of cultural norms and to protect their patrons from the proper consequences of their own dastardy. They have chosen barbary as their currency and may not reclaim the façade of civilization. Therefore the pretense that such creatures have the right to American standards of due process is specious and it is patently offensive to human reason, let alone American law, to treat terrorists as defendants in some polite debate on statute.
But there is more. Democrats in particular have treated the men and women of the U.S. military with scorn and disrespect. This is evident in the selection of men chosen to run for and hold the office of President. Neither the current nor prior Democrat to hold office as President of the United States ever served in any unit of the military, and the campaign platform of essentially every Democrat to run for high office includes a promise to weaken American interests abroad and abandon military commitment. Rather than finish what we promise, such men find it better to run and hide, blaming the men who suffer the cost if the ally falls when we leave.
That, I should say, is at least an honest cowardice. I believe that just as President Clinton abandoned Somalia because he did not believe we could win there, and President Carter before him abandoned Lebanon and Iran, so now President Obama believes that we cannot protect the nascent democracies built in Iraq and Afghanistan, and hopes to run from there as fast as he can, because he has no confidence in the military professionals who brought down dictators and freed fifty million people. It’s a bit racist of the Democrats, this assumption that people in North Africa and the Middle East either are not ready for Democracy or cannot be trusted to choose their own leaders, that equal rights for women and protection of children should only be insured in America and a few similar nations, but that is for another post. For now it is important to see that President Obama, like President Clinton before him, did not understand what the military is and does, and why it serves the role it does. And that lack of understanding reveals an even deeper hypocrisy among leading Democrats.
Let’s go back to crime. It’s understood that there are different types of crime. Kids spray-painting your fence is wrong, but a misdemeanor. If they steal your car, that’s a lot more serious, and if they attack you and put you in the hospital, much more serious. That’s understood around the world. What is deliberate is worse than what is accidental, what does significant harm is more serious than what does little or no harm. What is planned ahead is worse than a spur of the moment offense. And this in turn determines the response from the government. Kids throwing eggs might get the police involved, but they won’t be arrested in most cases, and the officers will not see a need to show weapons, much less use them. If, on the other hand, an officer arrives at a fight, he’s going to make sure his pepper spray, baton, and Taser are ready if needed, because he is more likely to need them. If he pulls over a bank robbery suspect, the gun will definitely be out and aimed. If the suspects are believed to be heavily armed, a SWAT team will arrive with heavy weapons. That’s just common sense. So when someone is planning or committing an act of mass violence, planning the deaths of many innocent people, the response must not be restrained. And that need for a fully severe response extends after the point of capture of terrorists.
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The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was forgotten by many people, especially after the arrest and trial of some of the culprits. That bombing was treated as a simple criminal act, a horrid one to be sure, but the nature of the act was hidden by the soothing routine of trial and sentencing. Even today, few people recall that the 1993 attack was planned by the same person who planned the 2001 attack; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. KSM was the uncle of Abdul Rahman Yasid, an Iraqi citizen who actually constructed the bombs and who was given sanctuary in Baghdad after the 1993 attack.
Even fewer people realize that the FBI had Yasid in custody briefly, but released him for procedural reasons in March of 1993, which allowed Yasid to simply board a plane and fly home to Iraq. This blunder was representative of the kind of communication and bureaucratic problems which hampered effective response to terrorism by US law enforcement.
Treating terrorist attacks as criminal matters for law enforcement to face led to serious errors in tactics. For instance, the 9/11 hijackers met resistance on only one of the four planes they hijacked, because of airline policy requiring pilots and flight crew to cooperate in the belief that this would prevent bloodshed. The CIA was not allowed access to FBI evidence in the belief that this would compromise criminal charges against individuals, even when some of those individuals escaped apprehension completely. What’s worse, lawyers for the accused in the trial for the 1993 bombing subpoenaed and received details of the investigation into the bombing, including the collection of evidence, the specific damage done by the bombs, and the fights between separate government agencies. This information was used to help plan the 2001 attack, conceal the terrorists’ communications and evade early discovery by the U.S. government. Certainly the same tactics will be used by KSM’s legal team in this trial.
I have written earlier that Muslim extremists do not represent the faith and beliefs of Islam as a whole, but these groups do have a disproportionate influence in Middle East society, and appear to enjoy patronage from powerful families and regional governments, in a manner similar to Organized Crime in many countries, especially the Triads in certain Asian countries. It is essential, therefore, to demonstrate to the common Muslim that these groups are self-defeating, and that they can and will be brought down by those who stand for Justice and protection of the commonwealth. It is, therefore, a blunder of the most serious magnitude to grant public attention and interest to a monster like KSM; he does not care so much what happens to him, if he can advance his cause in the effort. He confessed his plans and actions not because he was sorry for them, but because he was becoming irrelevant, and he hoped the shock value of his evil would rouse Al Qaeda to renew its confidence in its Fascism.
Many people misunderstand Fascism. It’s become a word handy to use in insulting one’s enemies, but in fact it is a very specific word which identifies a theory of malignant narcissism used to usurp the public weal for one’s own benefit. The Nazis, for example, were a striking example of a cult in which a person could assign the moral weight of his actions to a focused individual (der Fuhrer), while doing as he will to increase his own personal power and wealth. More than a few Nazis were notorious thieves, rapists, and sadists. To a degree, the same can be said for the Hashishin, a Muslim cult of the 12th Century who initially committed contract murders of political opponents, but who later expanded their franchise to murder on demand for their own benefit. This is what is happening now in Radical Islam. As controversial as some texts of Islam are, and as maddening as the culture sometimes seems to Americans, the acts of Radical Islam are generally done for the benefit of the leaders in those cults. While men like Osama bin Laden may seem to be most like the Muslim version of Charles Manson, in most cases and especially for men like KSM the comparison to Benito Mussolini is more apt. They enjoy uncontested power, wealth is irrelevant because they never pay for anything themselves, and their commerce in fear feeds their immense egos, to the point that they can order acts which harm not only Westerners, but far more often Muslims and their own people, because there is no personal cost for them to face. The leaders of such cults have no worries about the fate of their underlings who are caught, and those who are caught believe that their reputation is the whole objective. KSM is happy today, because even as a prisoner he believes he has escaped what he truly fears; the truth of his inconsequence and the sheer futility of his cause. As long as he can pretend his cause will prevail, he will pursue the same bloody doctrine, because for him that is all that matters.
There are three essential tasks to defeating Islamic Terrorism:
1. Eradicate terrorist groups, leaders, and networks wherever they are found, especially by creating democracies in place of the rat holes where they hide;
2. Educate the Muslim people through example that the faith will not be attacked, but those who hide behind the faith to perpetrate evil will be found and obliterated;
3. When a terrorist is caught, deal with him on his own terms. These are the avatars and disciples of death, who have eschewed civilization and the morals of all decent nations in order to promote chaos and anarchy in support of their despotic cause. Treat them as they chose, and reward them with the death they have already embraced.
The military exists, specifically because people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed exist. Just as you must kill the cancer to save the body, just as you must clear your home of poisonous snakes and vermin, so too must the complete eradication of all identified terrorist groups be performed, without compunction or restraint. Giving legal rights and privileges to a terrorist like KSM is no more rational than trusting that a cobra can be best observed near your children. He has chosen hell, whatever he may call it, and it is no justice to give him anything else in consequence.