“[January 8, 2010] The alleged Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in federal court today...”
– Reference (1) at bottom.
Why is the Christmas Day Bomber being tried in civilian court? Who made the decision to do that, and why?
We know of course that Eric Holder (with Barack Obama's encouragement or permission) made the decision to try the five Gitmo terrorist in federal civilian court in New York City.
But there has been no press elaboration provided by the left-stream media (surprise, surprise) as to exactly who made the decision, and why, to try the Christmas Day Bomber (Abdulmutallab) as a civilian criminal in federal civil court rather than as a terrorist in a military court.
After listening this week (January 20, 2010) to the congressional-hearing admissions of none-involvement from the top four USA counterterrorism officials (Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FBI Director Robert Mueller) it is clear that they were not consulted on where Abdulmutallab should be tried (civilian or military court).
It is obvious that the shot-caller was none other than attorney general Eric Holder. Why obvious? Holder has already staked-out his and Obama's preference for trying terrorists in civil court with the decision to try the Gitmo five in federal court in New York City; the FBI is organized directly under the DOJ, making Holder the upper-boss over the agents who actually got their hands on the terrorist; and the DOJ published this explanation:
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday defended its decision to charge a Nigerian man with trying to blow up a U.S. passenger jet in a criminal court amid fierce Republican criticism that doing so hampered obtaining intelligence from the suspect.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's spokesman Matthew Miller said FBI agents obtained useful intelligence from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab after he was arrested but before he was charged for allegedly trying to blow up Northwest Flight 253 as it flew from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day."
– Reference (2) at bottom.
It is instructive to reflect on why Holder's (ultimately Obama's) decision has been treated by the media in a keep-your-voice-down manner. No mystery. First, it is obvious that decisions to try terrorists in civil courts are not popular with the majority of the American people:
“Fifty-one percent (51%) of U.S. voters oppose the Obama administration's decision to try the confessed chief planner of the 9/11 attacks and other suspected terrorists in a civilian court in New York City. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 29% of voters favor the president's decision not to try the suspects by military tribunal at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba where they are now imprisoned. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure whether it was the right decision or not.
"Only 30% of Americans said suspected terrorists should have access to U.S. Courts…"
As Rasmussen notes from prior polls, "Most voters have consistently opposed moving any of the Guantanamo prisoners to prisons in the United States out of safety concerns." And public awareness is high:”
– Reference (3) at bottom.
Second, and perhaps a larger reason for playing keep-your-voice-down is the fact that in directly calling the shot, Eric Holder bypassed all four of the top counterterrorism officials and did not even take the common-sense, reasonable step of including them in the decision-making process.
This raises an interesting question concerning leadership redundancy: Why retain these counterterrorism agency heads if they are not going to be used in counterterrorism situations? The decision-making process used by Holder demonstrates the degree of confusion that exists in and among U.S. counterterrorism agencies. What does that mean? It means that we are right back where we were prior to 9/11: our national security agencies are in a state of uncoordinated chaos. The Obama administration naturally wants to keep this quiet, and the sycophantic, left-stream media will gladly oblige.
It is certainly a legitimate question to ask why Barack Obama and Eric Holder are so intent on trying terrorists in civilian courts rather than military courts? It is a legitimate question because there are major downsides to the use of civilian courts for trying terrorists.
And the major downsides to using federal civil courts to try terrorists are serious enough to completely discourage the process since military courts are a legal option.
What are the downsides?
When a terrorist is arrested as a civilian criminal they are automatically endowed with all the U.S. Constitutional rights, relative to a criminal trial; rights that they do not possess as non-citizens, and rights they do not deserve because of their acts of terrorism perpetrated against the USA.
The details of the negatives, aside from the well-known prospect for a lengthy, expensive, years-long process are three weighty, inescapable legal facts:
1) Under our civil law, a terrorist, immediately upon arrest, is by law supposed to be mirandized (i.e., told that he has the right to remain silent, and that he has a right to an attorney), because of this, any incriminating information that he may have revealed prior to being mirandized will generally be inadmissible in a civil court. And the circumstance under which the terrorist will reveal critical information after lawyering-up is only going to occur under one condition: Being given a plea bargain.
Now I ask you, do you want a terrorist to have a chance to escape just punishment by being able to cut-a-deal with the prosecutor? Furthermore, because of these civil-court encumbrances (Constitutionally intended only for U.S. Citizens), information critical to our national security could be and most likely will be lost.
2) "Constitutional rules limit what can be done to protect classified information during trials in the ordinary federal courts. In the federal district courts, the government has an obligation under Article III and the Sixth Amendment to conduct a "public trial" and present to the jury, in open court, the facts on which it is relying to establish a defendant's guilt."
– Reference (4) at bottom.
Now I ask you, do you want national-security-related military secrets to have to be publically revealed in a terrorist's trial?
3) The terrorist becomes, under our civil law, innocent until proven guilty and this necessarily means that the terrorist may walk due to a super-slick legal defense or due to a legal technicality.
Again, I ask, do you want a terrorist to have a chance to escape just punishment via US provided, legal-legerdemain or via some legal technicality?
With this discussion, we are back to a very important question: Why would Barack Obama and Eric Holder want to try terrorists in civilian courts rather than in military courts?
The short answer: Political Ideology.
The more detailed reasons are probably the following:
1. Political ideology. Obama has done his best to downplay the war on terror. Remember the Orwellian terminology adopted by the Obama administration for war on terror? Overseas contingency operations. And remember Janet Napolitano's infamous and silly term, man caused disasters? It was a substitute for the simple and honest term terrorism.
While these terminology changes seemed puzzling at the time, their purpose is now quite clear, they were preparatory steps, taken by Obama, to distance himself from the George Bush war on terror, and to appease his leftwing, anti-war base. Conducting terrorist trials in federal civil court would also support the Obama decision to close Gitmo–more appeasement for Obama's leftwing base.
2. Political vengeance. Putting the five Gitmo terrorists on trial in a federal court in New York City will necessitate that all the details surrounding the capture and interrogation of the terrorists be presented, and cross examined, in open court. Obama and Holder no doubt believe, as do many others, that one of the effects of this action will be to put George Bush and his administration on trial (in effect) for decisions made relative to terrorism, decisions such as allowing waterboarding of terrorists to obtain life-saving information.
3. Doubling-down. It is not unusual for decision-makers to attempt to support their previous decisions. It is often not wise, but it is rather ubiquitous in modern organizational life. In many people's mind, to change is to indicate that they are correcting a previous mistake. Can't do that? You certainly aren't likely to do that if you are Barack Obama or Eric Holder. This is symptomatic of the dangerous rigidity of a true ideologue, it is difficult for them to ever admit a mistake.
Once Obama and Holder decided to go down the path of trying terrorists in civil court, changing direction would suggest changing a mistake and would be politically embarrassing. Following one decision (a bad decision, or a good decision) with a second decision that supports the first, has in recent times been labeled doubling-down. The term originates from the game of Blackjack and means doubling your bet at a specific point in the game.
It is shameful that America's national security is being jeopardized because of decisions that are being made simply to satisfy Barack Obama's and Eric Holder's leftwing political ideology.
The decision to try the terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as a civilian criminal is another doubling-down mistake, by Holder and Obama, and another major mistake in the face of global, bomb-wielding terrorism. It is a perfect demonstration of why neither man (Holder or Obama) can be trusted in a public office that has anything to do with national security.
(1) Christmas Day airline bomb plot suspect pleads not guilty
(2) U.S. officials defend handling of airline bomb case
(3) Why Terrorists Don't Deserve A Court Date
(4) Bringing Al-Qaeda to Justice...Trying Al-Qaeda Terrorists in the Military Justice System