Rudy Giuliani and Andy McCarthy, both former federal prosecutors, must believe that they and only they are capable of safely putting terrorists on trial in open court. McCarthy is now a Serious Pundit with national security credentials partly because of his prosecution of Omar Abdel Rahman, the "Blind Sheik" who was convicted of masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center (which, Rudy decided once he became mayor, would be the perfect place to install the flashy new NYPD command center he envisioned as a high-tech tribute to his crime-busting greatness.) McCarthy has since changed his tune and is now singing the red, white and blues about the decision to put Kalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Guantanamo detainees on trial in federal court in New York City. Rudy's closest brush as U.S. attorney with a major terrorism case was the fruit of an investigation he conducted into two and half billion dollars' worth of weapons sales to Iran in 1986. The charges against all ten defendants were subsequently dropped for lack of witnesses who weren't dead, as well as the fact that 46 out of 55 counts in the indictment were dismissed. Rudy, to his credit, saw the writing on the wall and terminated the case, focusing most of his attention after that on bagging white collar miscreants. Now he, like McCarthy, has had a very vocal change of heart about terrorism prosecutions.
In the wake of Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the five Gitmo detainees will be transferred to New York and tried here, both McCarthy and Giuliani have completely lost their nerve as well as their memories. They're both running around bleating piteously that putting terrorists on trial in the city will render New Yorkers as vulnerable as kittens to all sorts of mayhem while giving other terrorists the idea that we as a nation are not manly enough to show them whose balls are bigger, theirs or ours. McCarthy is even claiming that the decision was based not on any kind of logic or adherence to constitutional principles, but is part of a "hidden agenda" the Obama administration has embarked upon to kowtow to its leftist base and promote vengeful prosecutions against some of the previous administration's officials for what we overwrought, shrieking liberals wrongly label "crimes."
This is what Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program about Holder's decision: Before I get into this disgusting travesty perpetrated here by Barack Obama, who, you notice how this guy... sends Holder out there today to announce they're bringing the Gitmo detainees up here for trial, he's over there in Japan... Obama was asked, "What about this business of bringing these people up here to try them in New York?" (imitating Obama) "Ah, the attorney general made that decision."
It's the attorney general's responsibility, not the president's, to decide whom to prosecute. The president actually cannot make that decision: that would be "politicizing the justice department," which is illegal, unless a republican does it.
So Limbaugh, regurgitating large chunks of what both McCarthy and Giuliani have been similarly spewing, mocks and infantilizes both Obama and Holder, sneers at their weak-kneed handling of terrorists, and implies that observing the trivial protocols of American jurisprudence means Obama is passing the buck to Holder in service to his scary hidden agenda. I'm guessing Limbaugh, McCarthy, and Giuliani talk to one another occasionally, but they must not chat long or intimately enough to get their stories straight - either amongst themselves or individually.
Here's what Rudy has been disgorging: A judge could decide that a lot of evidence can't be used because it was obtained in a way that was....shocking to the conscience. Meaning that information we tortured out of a defendant might possibly be deemed, great heavenly god, useless. Talking to Neil Cavuto on Fox, Rudy continues: It has to be at least conceivable that they could be acquitted, otherwise you can't have a trial. Really? A trial is actually supposed to do that, afford defendants the remote possibility that they might be acquitted? What is this country coming to? Then: I don't know what you do if he gets acquitted... presumably then the government would say, hey we can hold him anyway, he's a terrorist. A new wrinkle in the law: a defendant can be found not guilty by a jury and still be locked up in prison for the rest of his life! What a fantastic innovation in our legal system. But why keep it to ourselves? Let's export it to one of those poor oppressed countries with the corrupt governments like Afghanistan, because keeping people in prison even when they've been acquitted by a jury or a judge is definitely a jewel in the crown of our autocracy republic that we should shove down the throats of share with other less law-abiding nations, even if they don't want us to.
There's more: Then his civilian lawyers... are probably going to file a writ of habeas corpus. So a cornerstone of our system of common law, habeas corpus, which guarantees that a prisoner will be brought to court and offered the chance to dispute his imprisonment, is an insidious tool the terrorists will use to evade punishment for their crimes. Maybe we should just get rid of it altogether! Then no one can pervert its intent. That's the new American way: deprive us all of a fundamental civil liberty just to make sure a few Islamic jihadist slimeballs don't abuse it. That will surely advance the cause of freedom and democracy! Giuliani continues: Now they're going to use our own criminal justice system against us because we made the same mistake we made in 1993: we think they're criminals! These are soldiers in a war against us. Gee, you'd think Giuliani and McCarthy might want to check in with each other once in a while to make sure they get their stories straight. Didn't tough-guy attorney Andy, now a frequent contributor to National Review Online, successfully prosecute a really bad terrorist? Did he make a "mistake" by prosecuting the Blind Sheik as a regular criminal rather than as an enemy combatant - right there in federal court in the middle of New York? And exactly how many and which ones of those top secret national security secrets were exposed during that trial? Giuliani goes on: They are not entitled to the protections that civilians get. Again, this would be like trying the people who attacked us at Pearl Harbor in a Hawaii court as opposed to dealing with them as warriors... who are soldiers.. this is a very big mistake. So I guess when our soldiers or civilians are captured in Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else, Rudy thinks they shouldn't be entitled to contest their captivity or enjoy the unheard-of luxury of a fair trial to determine if they're even guilty of anything. He can't have it both ways, after all; he just thinks he can and that if he does, no one will notice or say anything. And why all the hysterics about having the trial in downtown Manhattan? After 9/11, he was all about taking charge and leading the way. When it reflected well on him to do so, he praised the resilience and bravery of New Yorkers. Now he thinks we can't even handle a trial, much less an attack.
Buck up, Rudy, it's not that bad. Why, practically at the very moment you were complaining so bitterly about the onerous burden of upholding the constitution, those namby-pamby Brits were taking care of a few terrorists without too much trouble: three defendants who plotted to blow up planes bound from Heathrow to the U.S with liquid bombs were found guilty in open court in London and given sentences ranging from 32 to 40 years. A court in Madrid found 21 of the 28 defendants in the 2004 Madrid train bombings guilty. Even in that hotbed of islamic heathenism, Indonesia, three terrorists were tried and convicted in the 2002 Bali bombings case, and little time was wasted before they were executed. So all these other places are capable of trying and convicting their terrorists, but we aren't? Doesn't that promote an image of New Yorkers and Americans as spineless, sniveling cowards, too afraid of our own shadows to put a few bad guys on trial?
Andy McCarthy, the tough guy who prosecuted the Blind Sheik (and profited handsomely off the cachet with which it imbued him when his book Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad was published) is now faithfully parroting the neocon party line with this: Nothing results in more disclosures of government intelligence than civilian trials. They are a banquet of information... where witnesses - intelligence sources - must expose themselves and their secrets. So I guess when he tried the Blind Sheik, he just didn't care that all those top secret national security-type secrets might be exposed and eaten. How very, very concerned and patriotic of him.
I wouldn't really care or set aside too much time writing about what either McCarthy or Giuliani says - I mean I wouldn't be so critical of them - except for the fact that what they say now is diametrically opposed to what they were saying and doing when they themselves were basking in the glow of their prosecutorial obligations. I find that mysterious and puzzling, and I'm a puzzle maven. What has changed since Giuliani led his people out of the hellhole that was Ground Zero? Or since McCarthy stood before a judge and jury, terrorists on the left, and risked exposing all those national security secrets in order to secure their convictions? The tired insistence that "It's a post-9/11 world" does not adequately explain this 180 degree turn in perspective.
Maybe they've simply forgotten what it was like to stare down a terrorist without flinching. Maybe they just don't want to anymore. Neither of them makes much sense right now, and they both sound awfully, awfully scared. Maybe they should try looking backwards instead of forward: it might jog their memories.