Charles Krauthammer says that President Obama and his administration are confused and inconsistent when it comes to dealing with terrorism:
The reason the country is uneasy about the Obama administration's response to this attack is a distinct sense of not just incompetence but incomprehension. From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to play down and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. Napolitano renames terrorism "man-caused disasters." Obama goes abroad and pledges to cleanse America of its post-9/11 counterterrorist sins. Hence, Guantanamo will close, CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York — a trifecta of political correctness and image management.
And just to make sure even the dimmest understand, Obama banishes the term "war on terror." It's over — that is, if it ever existed.
Obama may have declared the war over. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has not. Which gives new meaning to the term "asymmetric warfare."
And produces linguistic — and logical — oddities that littered Obama's public pronouncements following the Christmas Day attack. In his first statement, Obama referred to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as "an isolated extremist." This is the same president who, after the Fort Hood, Tex., shooting, warned us "against jumping to conclusions" — code for daring to associate the mass murder there with Nidal Hasan's Islamist ideology. Yet, with Abdulmutallab, Obama jumped immediately to the conclusion, against all existing evidence, that the would-be bomber acted alone.
More jarring still were Obama's references to the terrorist as a "suspect" who "allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device." You can hear the echo of FDR: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — Japanese naval and air force suspects allegedly bombed Pearl Harbor."
Obama reassured the nation that this "suspect" had been charged. Reassurance? The president should be saying: We have captured an enemy combatant — an illegal combatant under the laws of war: no uniform, direct attack on civilians — and now to prevent future attacks, he is being interrogated regarding information he may have about al-Qaeda in Yemen.
Instead, Abdulmutallab is dispatched to some Detroit-area jail and immediately lawyered up. At which point — surprise! — he stops talking.
This absurdity renders hollow Obama's declaration that "we will not rest until we find all who were involved." Once we've given Abdulmutallab the right to remain silent, we have gratuitously forfeited our right to find out from him precisely who else was involved, namely those who trained, instructed, armed and sent him.
This is all quite mad even in Obama's terms. He sends 30,000 troops to fight terror overseas, yet if any terrorists come to attack us here, they are magically transformed from enemy into defendant.
The logic is perverse. If we find Abdulmutallab in an al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen, where he is merely preparing for a terror attack, we snuff him out with a Predator — no judge, no jury, no qualms. But if we catch him in the United States in the very act of mass murder, he instantly acquires protection not just from execution by drone but even from interrogation.
“Lawyered up.” Good word. The point is, we need to decide whether to treat terrorists as unlawful (because they are not fighting under a lawful chain of command as soldiers of a nation do) enemy combatants or as criminals. If the former, they can be interrogated (which does NOT have to include torture) and indefinitely detained. If the latter, they have the right to remain silent! Nor may they or their camps be searched or their communications tapped without a warrant. Nor should they be subject to use of force when they are not in the process of committing a crime, as in having Hellfire missiles from a drone strike their camps. Instead, they would need to face extradition. We are trying to have it both ways at different times.
UPDATE: The administration has confirmed that it will try the Underwear Bomber in federal court. The president’s chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said that although he is now exercising his right to remain silent, we can still extract information from him by plea bargaining. Which means that the more he talks, the more he gets off!