Trials of Choice

Regardless of any political assessment of the presidency of George W. Bush, the one undeniable fact is it that after the attacks of September 11 the American homeland remained safe from terrorist attack under Bush’s watch. Whether because of or in spite of the hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether because of or in spite of detaining captured terrorists at Guantanamo, whether because of or in spite of enhanced investigative powers, whether due to foolish good fortune or wise policy, Americans have remained safe at home.

Last week, Army Major Nidal Hasan allegedly killed 13 people and wounded 30 othersĀ  at Fort Hood in Texas while reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar!” – “Allah is the Greatest.” While the initial reaction in the media has been to downplay Hasan’s terrorist ties, it has become clear that at the very least Hasan was a home ground jihadist, inspired by radical Islam abroad. Now the Hasan shootings cannot be realistically blamed on the Obama Administration, it does represent the first successful terror attack on US soil since 9/11.

Since coming into office, the Obama Administration has scaled back the War on Terror, refusing to use even the term, while traveling the world apologizing for aggressive US behavior against terrorismm. Guantanamo is being shut down. Last year the War in Afghanistan was a war of necessity, this year decisions about strategy seem to be unsure and tentative, confusing troops and heartening the enemy.

Now the Obama Administration has decided to place five terrorist on trial in federal court, a trial of choice. Let’s be clear, the choice is not between indefinite detention and a fair trial. The Supreme Court has given its blessing to military trials especially designed for acts of war for individuals captured on the field of battle by the military. The federal trial will open up the possibility of accidental release of classified information, as similar trials have in the past, and the opportunity for terrorists to use the trial for propaganda purposes. We were told that the War in Iraq was a war of choice. It is fair to assert that these federal trials are not legally or morally mandated, they are trials of choice.

The only possible advantages of such a trial are moral preening on the part of the Obama Administration, the chance once again to do something George Bush would not have, and an opportunity to appease Obama’s base on the Left. However, as the Administration elects to roll back the intensity on the War on Terror, the more it sets itself up, fairly or unfairly, for blame should terrorists manage to carry off a spectacular attack on the US.

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