The capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has revived the debate over the post-apprehension treatment of terrorists: Are they enemies to be treated under the laws of war or criminal defendants entitled to all the protections of the civilian criminal-justice system? I would expect the libertarian and leftist crusaders for civilian due process to lay low, for two reasons.
First, we are not talking fanciful hypotheticals now; we are talking about the reality of the jihad in a nation where, as John Fonte and John O’Sullivan contend (citing an important new Hudson Institute research paper by Fonte and Althea Nagai), our patriotic assimilation system is broken. Beyond the 12 to 20 million illegal aliens to whom the ruling class is hell-bent on granting legal status despite the government’s utter failure to enforce the law and address border security, we no longer assimilate legal aliens into a love of our country and its culture before naturalizing them.
With the Muslim Brotherhood having adopted a rigorous anti-assimilation strategy of creating sharia enclaves in the West, and with such prominent Islamic-supremacist politicians as Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging Muslim immigrants that assimilation is a “crime against humanity,” Islamic aliens are among the most resistant. The fact that many Muslim immigrants become American citizens hardly means that they see themselves as Americans. Too many see themselves as part of the ummah — the global community of Muslims that sharia jurists tell them is at war with Western civilization.
Second, the debate over detaining American citizens as enemy combatants will, in this instance, be a short one. Despite his jarringly inconsistent preference for killing (rather than capturing) suspected al-Qaeda operatives found overseas, President Obama is committed to a policy of treating terrorism as a crime that, in all circumstances, is fit for ordinary prosecution — meaning, full civilian due-process rights for all arrested terrorists. Indeed, he signed the NDAA under protest, clearly preferring the position of Paul, Lee, Feinstein, et al., that American citizens must never be detained without trial. If there is any meaningful interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it will be rationalized by the “public safety” exception to Miranda that applies in the civilian justice system. The Obama administration is committed to winding down the Bush counterterrorism approach, not reaffirming it in connection with jihadist atrocities committed inside our borders.
None of that will matter much. We mulishly continue to avoid coming to grips with the straight-line nexus between Islamic-supremacist ideology, which is firmly rooted in literal, authoritative Muslim scripture, and the threat to the United States. As long as willful blindness remains entrenched, the nation will remain vulnerable no matter which detention and prosecution protocols are used.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.