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McCain Advisers Slam Obama for 'Sept. 10 Mindset'

By Anne E. Kornblut
TAYLOR, Mich. -- Advisers to Sen. John McCain on Tuesday blasted Sen. Barack Obama as "naïve" and "delusional" in his approach to terrorism in one of the harshest exchanges over national security in the fledgling general election fight.

The attacks were so severe that one McCain adviser, Randy Scheunemann, predicted it would be described by the Obama campaign as the "politics of fear" -- the model perfected by President Bush. (Click here for audio of the call.)

"He's advocating a policy of delusion," Scheunemann said of Obama. Former CIA director James Woolsey, who was also on the campaign call with reporters, said Obama's attitude "ignores that we are in a war against terrorism."

The battle was sparked by remarks Obama made during an interview with ABC News on Monday in which he said that the handling of the previous perpetrators of terrorism, after the first attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, were rightly arrested, put on trial and sent to prison.

"They are currently in US prisons, incapacitated," Obama had said. "And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, 'Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.' So that, I think, is an example of something that was unnecessary. We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws."

Obama has applauded a Supreme Court decision last week to grant detainees rights to seek habeas corpus hearings. McCain vehemently disagreed with the decision, saying he favored the dissent written by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts instead. His advisers described the approach to handling terrorists in the 1990s as a "miserable failure" that resulted in attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 that could have been prevented if the 1993 World Trade Center detainees had not gone through the regular US courts. Woolsey suggested that the sealed court records contributed to the CIA's inability to foresee the later attacks. Scheunemann, in even fiercer language, described Obama as having the "perfect manifestation of a Sept. 10 mindset," saying his latest statements about putting terrorists through the criminal justice system is "just his latest statement" along those lines.

"He does not understand the nature of the enemy as we face it," he said. Woolsey said it was "an extremely dangerous" approach to terrorism.

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 17, 2008; 11:11 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama , John McCain  
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