Route 1 to the virgins

Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others who have confessed to planning 9/11 reportedly were all set to plead guilty to murder and war crimes. However, they changed their minds when a military judge indicated that such a plea would prevent them from being sentenced to death. This bizarre set of developments spurred Joby Warrick of the Washington Post to write a bizarre piece (“Offer of Plea Serves Mohammed and Bush”) in which President Bush somehow is the main player.

Warrick speculates that the timing of the aborted guility plea is linked to the end of the Bush administration. Asserting that Bush has obtained “iconic status” among Islamist extremists, Warrick suggests that by settling his fate before Bush leaves office, “Mohammed could frame his struggle as a fight against Bush.” He quotes a Georgetown University professor who argues that “prison itself — which under Bush carried at least the prospect of being seen as ‘living martyr’ for al Qaeda — would lose some of its status under an Obama administration.”

I’m inclined to agree with Andy McCarthy who writes:

What we don’t yet seem to grasp, even after all that’s gone on these last two decades, is that our politics and our law are of interest only to us. They matter nothing to jihadists. . . .[Mohammed] doesn’t see Bush or Obama. He sees an American president. He sees a symbol — the embodiment of a people and culture that are his mortal enemy.

What Mohammed may actually see at this point is Route 1 to the virgins, at least until that military judge threw up a potential roadblock. The rest is detail.

This is not to deny that President Bush has achieved “iconic status,” but rather to suggest that he has achieved it mainly among Georgetown professors and Washington Post reporters. To them, if not to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, there is more status in being a prisoner under President Bush than under President Obama.

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