Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) has strong words for the Republicans opposing Attorney General Eric Holder's plan to bring five 9/11 suspects to New York City to face trial.
"They see this as an opportunity to demagogue," he said. "They will seize on any opportunity to do that, and that means they'll even take a stand that's un-American."
"It's un-American to hold anyone indefinitely without trial," Moran added. "It's against our principles as a nation."
Moran, who represents the Congressional district closest to D.C., was among the only members of Congress to advocate President Obama's plan to send prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. so the military prison could be shut down. Obama first proposed the idea shortly after being elected and most in Congress rejected the plan, saying that bringing terror suspects to this country would endanger American lives.
Today, many politicians raised those same fears. Moran dismissed them.
"Right now, they're sitting in Guantanamo gaining sympathy," he said. "The sooner that we prosecute this guy, the sooner we can reduce the anti-American propaganda that surrounds his detention and inflames our enemies."
"Until we do that, it only strengthens the hand of people who recruit new terrorists with the clame claim we aren't true to our principles," he added.
Holder Lights Political Firestorm With Detainee Move
At a press conference this morning, Attorney General Eric Holder said he hoped Washington would "leave the politics out of it" when considering his decision to transfer five suspected 9/11 conspirators from the detention center in Guantanamo Bay to New York City for trial in federal court.
His request fell on deaf ears. Before he had even stepped from behind the mics at the Justice Department, politicians on both sides had begun a partisan battle over his decision to charge and try some of the men allegedly responsible for the worst terror attack in U.S. history.
House Republican leader John Boehner was the most blatant with his claim that politics was behind Holder's claim.
"The Obama Administration's irresponsible decision to prosecute the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in New York City puts the interests of liberal special interest groups before the safety and security of the American people," Boehner said in a statement. "This decision is further evidence that the White House is reverting to a dangerous pre-9/11 mentality - treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue and hoping for the best."
NRSC chair John Cornyn had a similar view.
"Reverting to a pre-9/11 approach to fighting terrorism and bringing these dangerous individuals onto U.S. soil needlessly compromises the safety of all Americans," he said in a statement. "Putting political ideology ahead of the safety of the American people just to fulfill an ill-conceived campaign promise is irresponsible."
At the press conference this morning, Holder said the decision to bring the detainees to U.S. soil was solely based on legal interpretations and the administration's goal of bringing the 9/11 terrorists to justice. Holder said despite his hopes, he expected his decision will become a political fight.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have criticized the Obama plan to close Guantanamo Bay by moving prisoners there to federal "supermax" prisons in the U.S. already holding domestic and international terrorists prosecutors have convicted in the past. Critics say any plan that puts a suspected terrorist on U.S. soil endangers Americans. A bipartisan and overwhelming majority in the Senate already expressed their disdain for such a plan in a vote earlier this year.
Holder said the five federal prosecutions announced today were a "significant step forward" toward closing Gitmo.
Holder will face some of the administration's Capitol Hill critics when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Tuesday. Committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was one of the few lawmakers to release as statement praising the Holder move today.
"I have always believed that the nation's federal courts are capable of trying high profile terrorism and national security cases," he said. "They have proven time and time again to be up to the job."
"I hope these cases will move forward promptly," Leahy added. "By trying them in our federal courts, we demonstrate to the world that the most powerful nation on earth also trusts its judicial system - a system respected around the world."
By M.J. Rosenberg - November 13, 2009, 9:24AM
I'm going to write about Charles Krauthammer today without telling about the time he freaked out royally in synagogue on Yom Kippur.
I'll get right to his column today which is a diatribe against the media for not attributing the actions of the Fort Hood killer to his religion. Actually, I have noticed no such reluctance. There is hardly a story about Nidal Hassan that does not mention his adherence to the most extreme and violent strains of Islam. And that is the way it should be. His views matter so do their source.
But Krauthammer wants something more. He ends his column by quoting a headline citing a "Jersey City man" in connection with 9/11. He writes that the man's Jersey-ness is not the point. It's his religion. And the media should say it.
Interesting. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we went back to mass generalizations based on religion or race? . Obviously not. Would Krauthammer like these headlines, "Catholics Block Abortion Compromise," "US Defends Jewish Barbarism In Gaza," not to mention the old "Negro Accused Of Killing Woman?"
No Krauthammer would not like that (except the last one perhaps).
The man is a bigot. I suggest he recuse himself from writing on all issues that even tangentially relate to Israel (i.e. Islam). His subtext is always the same: look, Americans, Muslims are anti-American and violent. They also hate Israel. That is why you must back everything Israel does. Its enemies are yours.
That in a nutshell (good word) is Krauthammer's entire ideology. If it's good for the Likud party, it's good for us. He is entitled to his passion. But we can't allow him to mask it even if the mask is so utterly transparent. Meanwhile, here is Americans for Peace Now's primer on right-wing Israeli terrorism (not including military actions).
By Jim Sleeper - November 12, 2009, 5:47PM
An essay just posted in Dissent notes two ominous ironies in Gen. Stanley McChrystal's demand to add a virtual War on Poverty to his counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.
The Hill - Tony Romm
Jim Moran (D-Va.) told MSNBC last night. Consequently, sending the 40000 additional troops to Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal first requested in ...
GENEVA - The UN's leading human rights official believes there should be no immunity from prosecution for anyone who tortured terror suspects as the Obama administration probes of allegations CIA agents abused prisoners.
The next step would involve criminal liability for anyone who broke the law, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said yesterday in a statement calling for greater transparency about "secret places of detention and what went on in them."
"I hope there is a swift examination of the various allegations of abuse made by former and current detainees in Guantanamo and other U. S.-run prisons and if they are verified, that the next steps will involve accountability for anyone who has violated the law," she said.
On Monday, Eric Holder, the U. S. Attorney-General, named a special prosecutor to probe the actions of some Central Intelligence Agency employees when questioning prisoners.
The move came after the U. S. Justice Department's ethics watchdog recommended considering prosecution of CIA agents or contractors for harsh interrogations in Iraq and Afghanistan that went beyond approved limits.
Ms. Pillay, a former UN war crimes judge, said the use of secret places of detention must be curbed and called for the release of the names of detainees currently being held in them.
"Secrecy has been a major part of the problem with this type of detention regime," she said.
"When guards and interrogators think they are safe from outside scrutiny, and legal safeguards are circumvented, laws become all too easy to ignore."
Former officials of the Bush administration, including Dick Cheney, the vice-president, have denied torture was used and defended their interrogation practices as legal.
This week, Mr. Cheney criticized the ability of Barack Obama, the U. S. President, to handle national security in the wake of the appointment of a special prosecutor.
He also argued the intelligence obtained from harsh interrogation techniques had saved lives.
"The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions," he said.
"President Obama's decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security."
Ms. Pillay reiterated her support for Mr. Obama's commitment to close the U. S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by 2010.
She also urged his administration to urgently review the status of detainees at the Bagram facility in Afghanistan and welcomed the recent release from Guantanamo of Mohammed Jawad, a young Afghan.
The U. S. justice system had "finally delivered justice," she said.
Mr. Jawad, who was accused of war crimes for throwing a grenade that wounded two U. S. soldiers in 2002, was one of the youngest detainees to be held in the U. S. prison camp.
In July, a U. S. judge threw out his confession because it had been obtained through abuse.
He said yesterday after his return home he had been abused and humiliated during six years of custody.
His lawyers argue he was about 12 when he was arrested in 2002, but the Pentagon has said bone scans indicated he had turned 18 when he was sent to the Guantanamo centre.
"In Jawad's case and those of other people held in detention for unacceptably long periods, without any charges being proven, or who were tortured or otherwise treated unlawfully, compensation and other remedies are essential," Ms. Pillay said.
© Copyright (c) National Post
Dear Mr. President:
According to press reports, you intend to decide, sometime in November, whether or not to send tens of thousands of American soldiers to Afghanistan. We are writing in advance of that decision to add our voices to those of Sen. Feingold, many House Democrats, and of a clear majority of Americans in urging you not to escalate this war, but rather to announce an immediate cease-fire followed by a withdrawal of all US troops in the fastest way consistent with the safety of our forces. We urge you to end the policy of using Predator drones to assassinate Pakistani civilians in their own country, in defiance of all concepts of international law. We also call upon you to cease all covert CIA and Pentagon operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
No vital American interest is at stake in Afghanistan. Former Marine and State Department official Matthew Hoh is right: the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan have come to be viewed as invaders and occupiers, and the resistance they encounter has nothing to do with international terrorism.
This war is futile, and now doomed to failure. There is no military solution to the problems that beset Afghanistan. Afghanistan and the rest of this tragically war-torn region need a Marshall Plan of peaceful economic development, through which some of the 15 million unemployed workers in our own country could find productive jobs. We have no confidence in the advice being given to you by military leaders like Gen. McChrystal, who has been implicated in torture in Iraq.
Many of us supported your candidacy because we viewed you as the best chance for ending the wars of the Bush era. We applauded your rejection of the rhetoric of fear and division that was the stock in trade of Bush and Cheney. We are alarmed by the way that rhetoric has crept into your public pronouncements since your August address in Phoenix.
Your decision on Afghanistan will represent the decisive turning point of your presidency. If you turn away from war, you will provide a profile in courage that will solidify your support and open up a new perspective for progressive reforms in our country. You will honor the spirit of John F. Kennedy, who was searching for an exit strategy from the Vietnam war.
If you opt for a wider war, the resulting heavy casualties will destroy confidence in your leadership among your own most devoted advocates. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be poured down a rat hole, and will no longer be available for any reform and renovation of American society, which will increasingly fall behind the economic strength of other countries.
Your domestic agenda will be halted, in the same way your predecessor Lyndon B. Johnson was crippled by the Vietnam war. Escalation of the Afghan war, in short, would be an act of political suicide for you, and of national suicide for our country.
We are keenly aware of the difficulties and animosities you face, and we have long done everything possible to give your administration the benefit of the doubt, even in the face of repeated disappointments. But we now approach the moment of truth: will you be a great progressive president, or will you prove too weak to turn away from the bankrupt policies institutionalized and entrenched under Bush and Cheney?
Therefore, we want you to know our attitude before you decide on the proposed Afghan escalation. If you choose to escalate, we will oppose this policy with all the energy we possess. We will act to mobilize the largest possible anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC and other cities before the end of 2009, and continuously thereafter. We will support anti-war candidates of any party in the 2010 elections. If you are still waging the Afghan war in 2011, we will be forced to seriously consider backing an explicitly anti-war primary candidate to challenge you during the Democratic primaries.
We therefore respectfully urge you to act in the spirit of your 2008 campaign â€“ the spirit of hope and change, neither of which can survive the continuation or expansion of the hopeless Afghan war.
Signed by the following anti-war organizations and peace activists
(Please endorse by responding to author. Thank you.):
Laurie Dobson, Maine Independent U.S. Senate Candidate 2008, Camp Alex for Peace, Maine
Cynthia McKinney, DIGNITY