NO WAY TO FIGHT A WAR
Updated: Tue., Jan. 26, 2010,
No way to fight a war
Two key senators yesterday handed President Obama a chance to prove he’s serious about prosecuting the War on Terror as a war, not a crime. But don’t expect him to take up the offer.
In a scathing letter, Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) blast Obama & Co. for their handling of Christmas Day bomber wannabe Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. They urge officials to declare him an “enemy belligerent” and move him to a military facility.
It’s now clear that the Justice Department goofed royally in offering Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, rights meant for US criminal suspects, not foreign terrorists.
That included the right to remain silent — and Abdulmutallab soon after went mute, denying authorities a chance to learn more about his fellow butchers.
How was such a foolish decision made?
The answer to that came out at a Senate hearing last week: Justice officials simply acted unilaterally — without consulting National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano or national counterterrorism chief Michael Leiter.
Heck, they already knew the view of their boss in the White House: Terrorists are no more than common criminals; the US justice system can handle them fine.
It’s no way to fight a war, of course.
But Obama himself made his view clear during his 2008 campaign, arguing that the criminal prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center terrorists worked out well. (And never mind 9/11.)
The tale of the attack on Flight 253, which nearly killed the 290 people aboard, is a string of mishaps: Leads went ignored. Databases failed to flag a variant spelling of the bomber’s name. Passengers were left to subdue him.
Officials then compounded their errors, offering him Miranda rights and advising him to clam up, which he did.
It’s mind-boggling. And all without consulting other key Obama officials.
Obama can partly reverse this last error, the senators say, by handing Abdulmutallab to the military for more questioning.
If the president ignores them, it’ll be yet one more bungle. But let’s be frank: Many of these mistakes might’ve been avoided altogether, if Team Obama were truly serious about fighting terror.
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