Canada Free Press
By Daniel Greenfield Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Since taking office, Obama’s key objective on terrorism has been to transform the public perception of it from an international military conflict, to a limited domestic criminal problem. Renaming terrorism to the bureaucratically euphonious term, “Man Caused Disasters” was straight out of the first rule in the textbook of organizational coverups, to phrase your sentences so that the identity of the perpetrators of the crisis remain as vague as possible. Focusing on everything but terrorism, while shutting down Gitmo and dispatching top Al Qaeda terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to civilian trials, was meant to restore the illusion of normalcy, while doing away with the terrorism focus of the Bush Administration.
There was a reason that once in office, Obama showed a very limited interest in pushing for the prosecutions of Bush Administration officials, as the left wing expected him to. Unlike them, Obama understood that the best way to shift the conversation was by avoiding the topic, not by confronting it head on… because while the American people may have turned on the Republicans, they were more likely to support a tough on terror approach, than not. Main Street America was a long way from ACLU headquarters, and so Obama decided that the best way to win the debate on terrorism… was not to have it all.
Seeing how fast Cheney’s numbers shot up by simply calling him out on terrorism, could have only stiffened Obama’s resolve to avoid the issue. But the issue refused to avoid him, whether it was demands that he come to a decision on Afghanistan, a renewed wave of terrorist attacks on American soil or a growing backlash from New York over holding the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trials in the city—Islamic “man caused disasters” just refused to go away.
By moving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into the civilian legal system, Obama and Holder were undertaking to engineer a massive shift in how America dealt with terrorism. It was a shift that everyone from lawyers to liberal pundits to the nutroots had been pushing all along. It was the message on the earliest posters tacked up by left wing activists on the streets of Lower Manhattan, even as the ruins of the towers were still smoldering. The shift would transform terrorism from a conflict fought in defense of America, to an internal criminal matter for the legal system to deal with. The difference between the two lies in far more than just a matter of which judges get to sit on the bench and where the trial takes place, it cuts right to the issue of what is really happening here.
Treating Islamic terrorism as a criminal problem transforms it from an international threat, into something purely local, akin to an armed robbery or a murder or two. And as liberal doctrine would have it, crime is not really preventable except through social welfare policies. That is precisely the tack that European governments have taken on terrorism, working with Muslim communities to improve their economic and social status. That would have been the next stage for the Obama Administration, if a roadblock hadn’t risen up on the road to the New York trial.
Moving the trial into the legal system, transforms it from a popular campaign, into a technical matter for the courts. It denies the compelling interests of the American people in this trial, by making it an abstract thing, a matter of dueling legal citations. And what better way to deny the reality of the War on Terror, than by turning terrorists and their atrocities into abstract formulae for lawyers to pore over. The second rule of the organzational coverup, is to always make a crisis seem more abstract, and therefore less relevant.
Holding a civilian trial for the planner of the attacks of September 11, in lower Manhattan, would not only close the circle with the original Twin Tower bombers trials, but would assert that terrorism is a criminal problem, that there is no war, that the issues will be settled by using the same procedures used for Americans charged with a crime. That the situation is complete normal, and that there is no War on Terror.
In the Bush Administration’s narrative, America was at war with international terrorism. In the Obama Administration’s narrative, there was no war, only a legal matter for the courts to settle. In the Bush Administration’s narrative, the conflict was being fought to protect Americans and American interests. In the Obama Administration’s narrative, the case had nothing to do with Americans, only with processing a few more inmates through the bowels of the legal system.