One gets the impression that the Obama administration is in a state of disarray over key components of its national security program. The New York Daily News reports that President Obama remains committed to trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed et al. as criminal defendants in federal court, for example, although he remains unsure where. Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan sheds his usual light on the issue: “As far as support from the community and funding requirement, the most important thing to keep in mind is we need to bring him to justice in an American court.” Why?
Speaking on Saturday at an event sponsored by the NYU Islamic Center event, within shouting distance of Ground Zero, Brennan observed: “Clearly, this is an issue people in the city feel strongly about.” The Obama administration is apparently searching for a venue in the United States where the people don’t feel strongly about the trial of Mohammed as a criminal in federal court. There Mohammed is to be judged by a jury of his peers, if the judge doesn’t throw out the case.
Mysterious forces present an obstacle to the achievement of the “need” to bring Mohammed to justice in an American court: “We are trying to push this forward as best we can, but we also need non-obstruction from certain forces in our government. There are stiff winds delaying us from bringing this man to justice.” Those “stiff winds” may be the “upside” of political climate change.
The decision to bring Mohammed and his co-conspirators to trial in federal court in New York City is attributable to Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama. Today’s New York Times presents a hagiograhpic profile of Holder that explores his treatment of KSM et al. According to the Times profile, Holders’s only flaw may be a possible lack of adeptness in the political implication of his decisions.
The Times presents Holder’s treatment of KSM et al. as flowing from Holder’s analysis of where justice would be meted out most swiftly. The Times, of course, finds no one to raise any doubt about the merits of Holder’s view. It omits any mention of the fact that KSM had announced his intention to plead guilty before the military commission in December 2008. When asked by the military judge if he was prepared to enter a plea of guilty to all the charges should he be allowed to, Mohammed avowed that he was. “We don’t want to waste time,” he added.
Brennan’s formal remarks at the NYU Islamic Center event are available on video at Josh Gerstein’s story on the speech. In his remarks Brennan testifies to the beauty and goodness of Islam. Brennan’s speech is full of the apologetics, false equivalences and straw men that we have come to expect from the Obama administration in addressing these matters. As he instructs the faithful in the meaning of Islam, he doesn’t quite get around to the subject of jihad.
Also worthy of note is Brennan’s reference to his having visited “Palestine.” Where is that?
Painful as it is, Brennan’s speech demands viewing in its entirety. (I haven’t yet made it through the 80-minute video with questions and answers following his speech.) Brennan decries “violations” of the PATRIOT Act (?!), surveillance that has been viewed as excessive, pollcies that have been perceived as profiling, and the creation of an “unhelpful atmosphere” around Muslim charities. Brennan doesn’t mention the Holy Land Foundation, which was surrounded by a particularly unhelpful atmosphere when it was shuttered by the government as a terrorist front and later convicted on the same ground. The pandering and evasions that permeate Brennan’s speech have to be seen to be believed.
The disarray in the Obama administration runs deep. It is intellectual in nature, and it emanates from President Obama and the senior officials in his administration.
UPDATE: Tom Joscelyn gives a close reading to the Times profile of Holder.
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