The No Jihadi Litigator's War

Yesterday, Ed Morrissey looked at this piece by Peter Beinart:

Peter Beinart makes an interesting, if somewhat contradictory, argument at the Daily Beast regarding Dick Cheney’s argument that the Obama administration doesn’t really think it’s fighting a war against terrorists. On one hand, Beinart argues that the Obama administration successfully rebuked Cheney through its reference to its own rhetoric, in which they used the term “war” as recently as the inauguration almost a year ago. Beinart then argues that Cheney was right after all, and that Barack Obama should embrace the idea that he isn’t fighting a war against radical jihadist terrorism:

But they missed the larger point, which is that while America is obviously at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, it isn’t actually at war with jihadist terrorism. Rather than proving Cheney wrong, the White House should have done something more audacious: Prove him right. …

Read both pieces; unsurprisingly I think Morrissey gets the better of Beinart in this debate. Then consider this new headline, which is currently being featured at Hot Air: Va. suspects in Pakistan say mission was jihad not terrorism

Five Northern Virginia men arrested in Pakistan indicated Monday that they plan to fight terrorism charges that Pakistani police are recommending by using a strategy seen in U.S. courtrooms: that they were preparing for jihad but not planning any terror attacks. […] The men told a Pakistani court that they had neither sought nor established contact with extremist groups and traveled to the region only “to help the helpless Muslims,” according to their Pakistani attorney. As they entered the courtroom, one of the men, Ramy Zamzam, told reporters: “We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism.”
[…]
Pakistani police say the men were in contact with a Taliban recruiter, were seeking to join al-Qaeda and went to Pakistan to carry out terrorist acts. The FBI is also investigating the men, and officials have said the Justice Department is likely to consider charges in the United States.
[…]
The emerging legal strategy reflects a view among some lawyers that prosecutors have misused the word jihad, especially since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and that it is a peaceful term that can mean studying Islam and caring for the sick.

“Jihad can take all types of forms, and it’s a great disservice when government officials use jihad and terror interchangeably,” said John K. Zwerling, whose client, Seifullah Chapman, was one of 11 Muslim men convicted after Sept. 11 in federal court in Alexandria of being part of a Virginia jihad network in the so-called paint-ballers case.

After 9/11, could we even imagine that the decades-old (and cowardly) terrorist action of Islamic Fundamentalists against the West would be reduced to tactics of semantics, on all sides?

Sort of how I’d imagine a war fought by litigation might be: we’ll defeat terrorism by ascertaining what the meanign of “is” is.

With the upcoming show-trial of Kalid Sheik Mohammed, we’ll get to see war prosecuted in the courts, soon enough. What a disaster that’s going to be! Let’s imagine:

“Objection your Honor! As the term “jihad” is currently under debate in another court, its use in this trial may be considered prejudicial to my client. We move that the terms, “jihad,” and “jihadi” be thus disallowed at trial. We further object to the use of the words “terrorists,” “extremists,” and “war,” as each of these terms, thanks to history, have become amorphous and may be interpreted in ways misleading to a jury or prejudicial to my clients, who are entitled to due process.”

Oh, speaking of war-by-litigation, Moussaoui’s conviction has been upheld! Mostly because, um…of his own confession.

I sure am glad that all the morons are out of power and the smart lawyers are back in control, aren’t you? KSM’s show trial is going to be a showcase ending in lunacy and sorrow.

Washington Examiner: Treating Terrorism as Ordinary Crime
“A stupid and dangerous game”

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About Elizabeth Scalia