Will Obama free the blind sheikh?

The thought that Barack Obama might free the Blind Sheikh (Abdel Rahman) — the convicted guru of the first World Trade Center bombing — is unbelievable, at least to me. Andrew McCarthy nevertheless found the thought, coming from deep within the Obama administration, highly credible. Now comes Michael Mukasey, the former federal judge who presided at the trial of the Blind Sheikh and friends. (Mukasey left the bench to serve as the last Bush administration Attorney General, an incredibly decent and honorable man.) In a Wall Street Journal column this morning, Mukasey writes:

A congressional staffer I spoke with last week recently called the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and asked to speak with the official in charge of the request to release Abdel Rahman. This call elicited not a denial but rather the disclosure that the matter was within the portfolio of the deputy chief of mission, for whom the caller was invited to leave a message.

Then there are the statements of U.S. officials on the subject, which all have sounded excruciatingly lawyered. Asked before Congress in July whether there is an intention “at any time to release the Blind Sheikh,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responded: “Well, let me just say this. I know of no such intention.”

The State Department’s spokesperson last week, after the ceremonial “let me be clear,” said that there had been no approach on this topic “recently” from any “senior” official of the Egyptian government—an elucidation laden with ambiguity and certain to send chills up the spine of anyone familiar with Abdel Rahman’s record and President Morsi’s inclinations.

All of this plays out in the context of an Obama administration that hasn’t hesitated to employ executive orders to get around Congress, led by a president who was caught on a “hot mike” assuring Russia’s leaders that if he wins re-election he will have more “flexibility” to accommodate Russian demands that the U.S. curtail missile defense in Europe.

It appears that the only course open now is for Congress to demand an unequivocal statement from the State Department and the White House that the U.S. will not transfer or release Abdel Rahman under any circumstances. Absent such assurance, it may be time for Congress to make clear that such a transfer or release could be considered the kind of gross betrayal of public trust that would justify removal from high office.

Just in case you needed one more thing to worry about…


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