Friday, December 18, 2009

Gitmo Does Not Cause Terrorism

A fine piece by Andrew C. McCarthy.


Gitmo Does Not Cause Terrorism
Doubt It? Ask the Blind Sheikh.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

So we’re going to shut down the detention center at the U.S. naval base on Guantanamo Bay and move the 200-plus terrorists detained there to a seldom-used civilian correctional center in Thomson, Ill. And we’re doing it, the Obama administration and Sen. Dick Durbin assure us, not because they want to use federal money to indemnify their home state for a white-elephant prison Illinois taxpayers should never have built, but because Guantanamo Bay simply must be closed. Gitmo, they say, causes terrorism.

It’s worth remembering that the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, perhaps the world’s most influential jihadist, was never held in Gitmo. Instead, he and eleven of his followers got the gold-plated due-process plan: a nine-month 1995 trial in the criminal justice system for waging war against the American people. (That’s not rhetoric; that was the charge: conspiracy to levy war against the United States — Section 2384 of the federal penal code.)

The red-carpet treatment didn’t begin or end with the trial. There were Miranda warnings upon arrest (no one cooperated). Counsel was appointed, with the defendants choosing their lawyers — and, for some, Uncle Sam paid for two or more attorneys. Mountains of evidence were culled from intelligence files and duly shared with overseas terrorist organizations. The defense enjoyed a couple of years to make motions to get more discovery, to suppress evidence, and to dismiss the indictment. When things finally went to trial, there was a two-month defense case (that’s much longer than most criminal trials), which allowed them to put the government on trial for its investigative tactics. There was a post-trial hearing on their motion to vacate their convictions and dismiss the case on the ground of “outrageous government misconduct.” There was elaborate litigation before severe sentences were imposed: The Blind Sheikh got life imprisonment, and the other sentences ranged from 25 years to life. That was followed by a three-year appeals process, during which the court appointed new lawyers to argue that their clients had been railroaded through the incompetence of the old lawyers, while the old lawyers continued arguing that their clients had been railroaded by the malevolence of the government. Finally, when the appeals were done and the convictions upheld, the defendants began filing habeas corpus petitions — a practice that continues to this day — claiming that this or that constitutional right was infringed, or that this or that prison condition was inhumane.

So the Islamic world and its sundry terrorist bands were all very impressed with this ostentatious display of our humanity, our benign intentions, and “our values” — right? Wrong. The usual Islamist organizations claimed that America had put Islam on trial — the original slander that was refitted after 9/11 into the equally spurious charge that America is at war with Islam. In early 1997, about a year after sentencing, Sheikh Abdel Rahman’s Egyptian terrorist organization, al-Gama’at al-Islamia (the Islamic Group), issued a statement declaring “all American interests legitimate targets” for “legitimate jihad” until the release of all those convicted terrorists, beginning with their beloved leader.