Sunday, November 15, 2009

Republicans Once Again Shamelessly Exploiting Terrorism For Political Purposes

It's been a great week for Republicans, that is if you consider raging hypocrisy and shameless propaganda successful virtues. Two national security issues have come to the forefront and have given the GOP and its allies a major opportunity to criticize President Obama and the Democratic leadership.

The first case involves the November 5th Fort Hood shooting rampage by US Army Major Malik Nadal Hassan, who Republicans are demanding be called a terrorist for killing 13 people in what they claim is the first act of terrorism on U.S. soil since the September 11, 2001 attacks. The second involves the Obama Administration's decision last week to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other terrorists in civilian court in New York rather than through a military tribunal, a move the right warns puts Manhattan, the judge, jury and victims' families in grave danger. You can literally smell the political posturing. The opportunity to hang a terrorist attack on Obama is a Republican's wet dream.

In the Hasan case, it's certainly quite politically expedient for Republicans to throw the terrorist tag on the psychotic psychiatrist. But perhaps they should wait for evidentiary proof that Hasan was indeed an Islamist jihadist connected to a terror organization in a plot to kill U.S. soldiers and not simply a horribly deranged, conflicted individual who committed a random act of violence.

Those who rush to label Hasan a terrorist must remember the charges of WMD and al Qadea connections against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. They were wrong then and they could be dead wrong now. If Hasan is indeed a terrorist, and his rampage a true act of terrorism, let that be the conclusion of a military investigation rather than indictment by partisan rhetoric. As heinous as Hasan's massacre was, perhaps that's all it was: a horrific, premeditated massacre. But that conclusion would not afford the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservatives the opportunity to exploit the dead purely for political purposes.

The most important test for Americans in the Hasan case is deciding what actually constitutes as terrorism, and therefore who is a terrorist. Any mentally ill Muslim can walk into a supermarket and yell "Allahu Akbar," as Hasan had before opening fire on his fellow soldiers, but does that in and of itself make him an Islamist terrorist rather than simply a violent fringe lunatic? Does this give license to Republicans to frame the debate with reckless, irresponsible and incendiary rhetoric? As ThinkProgress’ Matt Duss put it: "The definition of terrorism is not ‘any violence by any Muslim anywhere at any time for any reason’."

The rhetoric is no less in Attorney General Eric Holder's decision on Mohammed. To show how political this situation has become, consider the blatant hypocrisy since Friday of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who's been harshly criticizing the Obama administration as being soft on terrorism yet had nothing but praise and support amid the New York prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers:

"It seems to me that the Obama administration is getting away from the fact that we’re at war with these terrorists. They no longer use the term, ‘War on Terror’....This seems to be an over concern with the rights of terrorists and a lack of concern for the rights of the public...
It gives an unnecessary advantage to the terrorists and why would you want to give an advantage to the terrorists, and it poses risks for New York."

But back in the mid-90's Giuliani sang a different tune:

"It should show that our legal system is the most mature legal
system in the history of the world, that it works well, that that is the place to seek vindication if you feel your rights have been violated."
[The New York Times, 3/5/94]

"...New Yorkers won’t meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon: the law." [The New York Times, 3/5/94]

"I think it shows you put terrorism on one side, you put our legal system on the other, and our legal system comes out ahead." [CBS Evening News, 3/5/94]

The notion that a civilian trial is tantamount to letting these terrorists walk, or inviting them to turn the criminal justice system into a circus, or posing a tremendous threat to New York City, is completely without merit whereas history is concerned: since 2001, 195 cases of terrorism have been uneventfully prosecuted in civilian courts, with 91% ending in convictions, including those of '93 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe-bomber Richard C. Reid. But this little factoid surely won't stop Republicans from turning both of the cases into an extremely noisy rallying cry.

On another note, the film I produced, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, which was written by my late wife Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), will have its U.S. premiere and afterparty December 3rd in NYC. This event will also serve as the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Foundation fundraising gala, and proceeds will go towards helping ASF achieve its mission of supporting women filmmakers. Tickets are $150. Please join me, our stars Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, our director Cheryl Hines and others at this red-carpet event. Tickets are extremely limited (only 25 left). To purchase, please call Jessica at 212-381-1716.

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Unknown said...

If we can't try them, how do we have the stick needed to fight "the terrorists" criminal actions?

If the US army can't identify "one of them" in their own midst, what sort of apparatus did Bush/Cheney build up all these years of so-called war on global terror?

If we can’t protect NY, what can we protect?

So what we’re left with is the same tired “I don’t like it when dictators rail against the US at the UN” type argument. If “the terrorists” want to use their precious courtroom time doing PR, they will lose their case and get the harshest sentence.

Who cares if they rail against America? It’s a free country and but “they’ll” end up going to Thomson, Ill for life.

Anonymous said...

Nothing that the Dems and Obama do will satisfy these folks.

What we need to concentrate on is doing the job and letting the American people know our side since the other side lies on a daily basis. The low Dem poll numbers have more to do with what they are not doing than what they are doing.
The crazies will never be satisfied.

Anonymous said...

You article is chocked full of lies and quotes taken out of context.Since Sept 11 we have been at war with Muslim Extremeists.Apparantly this is something the Obama administration,particularly Eric Holder,doesnt get.You dont get it either.The trial should be in a military tribunal.Period.
The only good thing is that although they will eventually be found guilty,it will go way past the next Presisdental election and your precious liberal Democrats will lose both the midterm elections and the White House.
Can you imagine if a liberal judge throws out the admission because he wasn't mirandized?A lawyer like Ron Kuby wanting to make a name for himself and throwing the country under the bus? What if there's a mistrial.Obama wasnt ready for the big stage my friend.
People like you are guilty of rushing to judgement by voting for Obama even though hes not ready for prime time.
You have to be a moron to have a criminal trial.There is no upside to this.Giuliani is 100% correct.

Anonymous said...

To further illustrate the Right's hypocrisy on Mohammed, just imagine that a 9/11-type attack occurred in Moscow. Russian authorities then apprehend the perpetrator, but instead of a trial in open court, they squirrel him away to a mysterious, closed-door military court, out of the world's view, where he is summarily found guilty and executed--with no transparency, no evidence publicly presented, no guarantees the law was followed. Does anyone expect us to believe that Giuliani, Hannity, etc., would praise Putin?

Unknown said...

Delusional.Completely delusional.
You quote Giuliani from the mid-'90s before the events of Sept 11.
You are in as much denial as President Obama is concerning terrorism and who our enemy is.
Anyway,at least it will be 4 years and out now for this do nothing President od ours.

The Ostroy Report said...

Anon 9:51, would you like a donut to go with that Kool-aid you're drinking? You are terribly misguided and clearly regurgitating Republican talk-points without any concrete evidence to back any of it up. The fact that many prominent Islamist terrorists have already been tried in civilian court in NYC apparently means little to you. Much easier, I suspect, to not let facts get in the way of your opinions and rhetoric. Nor do you have the capacity to know when you're being used by your party. When Bush was in office Giuliani was of a completely different opinion about trying terrorists in civilian court than he is now that Obama is president and it's politically expedient to attack the administration. But the truth is, there is zero diference between then and now...except the partisan posturing and shameless exploitation of a horric attack--yet-again--by your party. And lastly, my friend, do you actually think the U.S. government hasn't dotted its i's and crossed its t's--on Miranda and anything else--before making this decision? You can't possibly be that naive. My advice to you: don't let your party make a sap of you. You're probably much brighter than that...

Anonymous said...

Back at you Ostroy.
Lets get something straight....I am not a Republican.I voted for Gore,Kerry and then McCain.Didnt vote for Obama because he had accomplished nothing politically-as a matter of fact,from a political standpoint,palin accomplished more,and I dont like her either..I can point out lies throughout this opinion but I havent the time.You quote Giuliani from the mid 90's...gimme a break..You drink the Kool Aid...Its your ideology...not mine on either extreme.The partisan posturing is that of the Far Left actually thinking that having a criminal trial is a good idea when there is NOTHING positive that can come of it....Good try to try and label me.Its a continuing plot of the far left.But it wont work on me.

Unknown said...

Your rebuttal to anon is a lot of BS...The bottom line is that there is nothing positive about a civiilian trial.Waterboarding,which has proved to be torture but not illegal when done on KSM,could possibly get the admission thrown out of court.Thats just for starters.Apparantly,they werent MIRANDIZED because they were war criminals,non citizens and caotured on foreign soil.You are the partisan Kool Aid drinker.
This will be OBAMAs Waterloo.

Anonymous said...

The attack at Ft Hood was not terrorism because it was not politically motivated, nor did it send any political message. Like so many other mass shootings, the shooter was on antidepressant prescription drugs, and that caused him to become extremely violent and suicidal. So don't blame the religion of Islam, blame big pharma. It really is as simple as that.

Kevin Schmidt

The Ostroy Report said...

My goodness, where to begin. It's startling how naive, misinformed or just plain ignorant of reality some people can be.

To Anon 11:35: I'm sorry pal, but people like confuse the truth with opinion. To suport my position that KSM can and will be tried w/o problem, I am pointing to several major civilian-court-tried terrorism cases in NYC that were all conducted uneventfully and resulted in conviction and life sentences. You, on the other hand, are claiming the sky will fall if these terrorists are tried in civilian court, yet don't substantiate it with anything but the nonsensical right-wing partisan rhetoric that Sean Hannity's blown up your keester. Funny how I'm the guy with "opinions" and you're the one telling it like it is. Ya gotta love Republican logic...

To Nat 12:12: Whoa! You're a genius. Please get on the phone with the Attorney General's office IMMEDIATELY and share this concermn with them about the waterboarding! I'm sure that haven't a clue that this sort of thing could throw the whole case out of court! My God, man, what would the United States do without your wisdom? You're a Great American!

Lastly, to all the folks excusing/dismissing Giuliani's comments from the mid 90's simply because they are from the mid-90's...are you people serious? What's relevant is context; what someone says about a past situation as it relates to a current matter. When they said it is utterly irrelevant. That you cannot see the blatant hypocrisy in Giuliani's comments now vs then shows your true partisan colors. But that's ok. We love having Republicans post here. You guys are a scream....

Anonymous said...

I must admit,I usually side with Andy Ostroy,albeit begrudgingly.
In the case of this past blog,however,Andy you are so way wrong I will look at these blogs of yours more closely now.

The Ostroy Report said...

Begrudgingly??!! Why on Earth would you ever consistently agre with someone "begrudgingly!?" Are you under duress of some sort? Excessive stress? Do us both a giant favor and just disagree with me from now on! And by the way, yes, you should read everything I write mnore closely. You might not begrudge me so much!

Anonymous said...

Never saw ostroy respond so
obama's pretty wrong..thats all this means.apparantly this situation and this decision has the masses pissed...

Athena Smith said...

Kevin Schmidt put it correctly. The definition of terrorism entails far more than mass killing. Google it.

As for the arguments against civilian courts trying suspected terrorists, ther answer is here

For many years Europe was devastated by terrorist groups in many countries (70's). The Red Army/Meinhoff Gang in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy, Action Directe in France/Belgium, 17 November in Greece, IRA in the UK and Ireland, ETA in Spain. The first four have been totally eliminated, the other two not, but all arrested members, all of them, were tried in civilian courts.

The Ostroy Report said...

Athena...stop that! You're being factual and logical! Don't you doesn't matter how many actual cases of very successful civilian court-tried terrorist cases there are throughout the world in recent memory. As our dear Republican friends are ensuring us, this time it's going to be a disaster! They can't tell us why, and they have zero facts to substantiate this claim, but trust them.....they know.

Anonymous said...

Funny I don't remember the terrorist attacks of which Athena speaks ever igniting world-wide horror Nor do I remember any of the afflicted countries declaring war to fight the terorist movement, as we dod. I do remember the world watching Americans jump from windows fifty stories high in the World Trade Center. I do remember that we tried the terrorist in NYC in 1993 in civil court and we see what happened pm 9/11.

We are now acting like the Birtish Recoats, whose attire made them easy targets for us, the revolutionaries. We won, rememember by being smarter than they.

The argument that these men to be tried are individuals and not a country trying to destroy is is a distinction without merit. The religious "movement" has declared death and destruction to Americans. It is a religious war. Remember them from history? Our only goal should be protection of American life.

Rick said...

Nat, your argument amounts to "If we give them a fair trial, we might not get the outcome we want, so let's not give them a fair trial."

As for waterboarding, you say it's proven to be torture but not illegal - but torture IS illegal. That's like saying "Fido is proven to be a Schnauzer but not a dog." I don't know how Republican heads manage to hold onto such cognitive dissonance without exploding.

Anonymous said...

Rick a fair trial under out law might mean their getting off on a technicality -- like no miranda warning -- yet, they are confessed murderers and responsible for the 9/11 attack.