Treating terrorism as an ordinary crime

The Washington Examiner

January 5, 2010

Two men have been charged by law enforcement authorities with committing criminal acts on Christmas Day 2009. The first, Joseph T. Knox, 43, of 6092 North Main St. in Sandy Creek, N.Y., was charged with attempted first-degree felony robbery of the China One restaurant, located next door to his residence. New York State Police said Knox brandished a knife during the bungled robbery. Bail was set at $10,000, and, if convicted, Knox could face up to 25 years in prison.

The second, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, of no known permanent address, was charged with attempting to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 bound for Detroit from Amsterdam. If convicted, Abdulmutallab could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In other words, in President Obama’s America, a man charged with brandishing a knife during a failed attempt to rob a local eatery could get more prison time than an aspiring suicide bomber who tried unsuccessfully to ignite explosives that would have incinerated him and nearly 300 other passengers and crew members on board Flight 253. This disparity unmasks the illogic of dealing with Islamic terrorists as if they are mere criminal defendants deserving of the same constitutional rights as common thieves.

Like Knox, Abdulmutallab was told he had a right to remain silent, and he took full advantage of it. Then, as if to turn terrorism into the moral equivalent of shoplifting, prosecutors offered Abdulmutallab a plea bargaining deal in return for his cooperation. This was done, according to White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, so that Abdulmutallab would know “there are certain things that are on the table, and if he wants to engage with us in a productive manner, there are ways that he can do that.”

If Obama is serious about “doing everything in our power” to stop terrorism, he will instead treat Abdulmutallab, along with all other terrorists attempting in the name of Islamic extremism to destroy America, as enemy combatants on a par with irregular guerrillas. Such fighters use civilian clothes to disguise their murderous intentions and are thereby not covered by the Geneva Convention for prisoners of war.

The appropriate response to such individuals is interrogation using accepted techniques for extracting militarily useful information, followed by a military tribunal to establish the facts in all cases and execution for those justly convicted. Anything less makes the protection and preservation of our nation no more important than punishing an inept restaurant robber in a small town in upstate New York.

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