The Corner

Obama-logic on Terrorism: Mass-Murder Civilians and You Get Better Rights

I have an op-ed in the New York Daily News this morning on the Obama administration decision to transfer KSM and the other 9/11 jihadists to Manhattan for a civilian trial. Here’s the wrap-up:

Our enemies will be given a full-blown civilian trial with all the rights of the American citizens they are sworn to kill. They will get a year or more to sift through our national defense secrets. They will have wide latitude to turn the case into a trial of the Bush administration – publicizing information about anti-terrorism tactics that leftist lawyers will exploit in their quest for war crimes prosecutions in foreign courts against current and former U.S. officials.

In the military system, we could have denied them access to classified information, forcing them to accept military lawyers with security clearances who could see such intelligence but not share it with our enemies. In civilian court, the Supreme Court has held an accused has an absolute right to conduct his own defense. If KSM asserts that right – as he tried to do in the military commission – he will have a strong argument that we must surrender relevant, top-secret information directly to him. And we know that indicted terrorists share what they learn with their confederates on the outside.

Finally, as policy, the administration’s decision is perverse. A half-century of humanitarian law, beginning with the Geneva Conventions, sought to civilize warfare. To receive enhanced protection, combatants must adhere to the laws of war and refrain from targeting civilians. Under Obama-logic, the Cole bombers get a military commission while the 9/11 savages are clothed in the majesty of the Bill of Rights.

So here’s the message to terrorists: If you kill thousands of civilians, we will give you better rights than if you attack military assets. That is dangerously irresponsible.