Terrorism trials elicit strong opinions
By John Amick and T. Rees Shapiro
CNN: STATE OF THE UNION - Presidential adviser rejects worries over terror trials
White House adviser David Axelrod disagreed with the premise of Obama administration critics that any trial involving terrorism suspects, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, held on American soil is dangerous and irresponsible.
Axelrod pointed to the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted of conspiring to kill U.S. citizens as the famed 20th 9/11 hijacker in a U.S. civilian court, as evidence of success in trying terrorism suspects in courts as opposed to military tribunals.
"When the 20th 9/11 bomber (Moussaoui) was tried in Virginia, in a civilian court, and convicted, Mayor Giuliani testified in that case and he heralded the outcome. So he may have changed his view, but we haven't changed ours," Axelrod said, in response to statements by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who said the use of civilian courts to try terrorists was a way of minimizing what he thinks is an act of war.
Giuliani, appearing in a separate interview segment, cited military tribunals as a historic precedent for wartime prosecutions and not civilian court cases that, he said, could put the site of the trials in a dangerous position.
"The really strange thing about this decision is five of these terrorists are going to be tried in military tribunals anyway," Giuliani said of Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try Mohammed and four other suspects in America and put other suspects through tribunals. "So the reality is ... it's an unnecessary advantage to give to the terrorists. I don't know why you want to give terrorists advantages."
More on the Sunday talk shows after the jump
Giuliani coupled advocacy of tribunals with his concerns about the Obama administration's rhetorical framing of America's efforts to curb terrorism around the world.
"It's the more appropriate choice (tribunals) with regard to a recognition that we are at war with Islamic terrorists, something the Obama administration refuses to say," Giuliani said.
When asked if the Obama administration will be able to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay by the end of the year, as Obama had pledged to do, Axelrod said: "We believe we are going to substantially meet the deadline. We may not hit it on the date, but we will close Guantanamo. And we are making good progress toward doing that."
Axelrod: Abortion amendment is an aspect of a larger bill
Axelrod said the controversial abortion amendment added to the House reform bill that would bar abortion funding within any new plan created by the legislation would change the "status quo," something President Obama wants to avoid.
"The president has said repeatedly, and he said in his speech to Congress that he doesn't believe that this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion," Axelrod said of the Stupak-Pitts amendment. "This shouldn't be a debate about abortion. And he's going to work with Senate and the House to try and insure that at the end of the day, the status quo is not changed."
Would Obama refuse to sign a bill with the abortion amendment? Avoiding any commitments, Axelrod painted the amendment as a small piece of a larger, complex puzzle that is health-care reform, just as the administration has treated the inclusion of a public option in final legislation.
"I don't think the president has said that one way or the other what his posture would be," Axelrod said. "He said that this is an aspect -- the public option debate is an aspect of a larger bill. This is an aspect of a larger bill. He has been very careful not to draw these lines. But he believes both these issues can and will be worked through before it reaches his desk."
Giuliani weighs in on the Republican Party
Giuliani praised former Alaska governor Sarah Palin as a positive for the GOP, saying the enthusiams she creates can only be good for the party. Yet Giuliani did admit that tensions between moderate and conservative Republicans -- as exemplified in the recent election in New York's 23rd Congressional District where conservatives successfully pushed aside the moderate candidate -- is not a good precedent for Republicans.
"That's the way you can allow Democrats to win, even if the public has turned against them on certain things," Giuliani said, going on to falsely claim the winner of the NY-23 seat William Owens (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/O000169/) voted against the House's health reform bill.
"That's a district that is very concerned about Obama's health care. You can see the Democrat has voted against the Obama health care program. That's a district where we could elect a Republican if we get our act together and let's hope we don't repeat that too often because then we surely won't be a majority party."
ABC: THIS WEEK - Clinton: Security, Afghan accountability are concerns
Acknowledging that the instability of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government remains a major obstacle to an effective U.S. strategy in the region, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pushed broad accountability procedures in Afghanistan to combat corruption.
"I have made it clear that we're not going to be providing any civilian aid to Afghanistan unless we have the certification that if it goes into the Afghan government in any form, that we're going to have ministries that we can hold accountable," Clinton said today on ABC's "This Week." "We are expecting there to be a major crimes tribunal, an anti-corruption commission established and functioning, because there does have to be actions by the government of Afghanistan against those who have taken advantage of the money that has poured into Afghanistan in the last eight years."
Regardless of any new plan, Clinton said that America's security is the number one priority for any Obama administration decision on Afghanistan, stressing that President Obama is taking the most thoughtful and deliberate steps in re-evaluating strategy there.
"We agree that our goal here is to defeat al-Qaeda," Clinton said. "We understand that the Afghans themselves need help in order to defend themselves against the Taliban. Those are mutually reinforcing missions, but our highest obligation is to the American people. It is to do everything we can to make sure that America is secure, that our allies, our interests around the world are protected. And that is what we're focused on."
Clinton also stressed the role of Pakistan in combating further al-Qaeda growth in the region.
"We have made it clear to the Pakistanis, as well as to the Afghans and others, that we want to do everything we can to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaida," Clinton said.
Clinton did not elaborate on how to halt the activities of a stateless, constantly changing entity like al-Qaeda.
"Our goal is very clear. We want to get the people who attacked us, and we want to prevent them and their syndicate of terrorism from posing a threat to us, our allies and our interests."
Clinton also shot down speculation of a run for governor in New York next year, saying the rumor is dead.
That's another one of those stories that never will die, and I hope maybe we can put it to rest today," Clinton said. "No, I am committed to the job that I have."
Rudy Guiliani on Maj. Nidal Hasan:
"I think the administration has been very slow to come to the conclusion that Major Hasan was an Islamic extremist terrorist. I mean, the reality is, he announced "Allah akbar" when he shot and killed those people. He was communicating with a cleric who was encouraging terrorism. And now it turns out he has -- he even has business cards saying "solder of Allah. And I suspect that -- I suspect that Major Hasan, although I don't know if a decision has been made, will be tried in a court- martial. I suspect, but he could be tried either way. But these are acts of war."
NBC: MEET THE PRESS - Clinton: Trying KSM in America is right way
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department had come to a comprehensive decision when they chose to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York, and would not undermine their vetting process. She said the process for deciding which terrorism suspects would be tried in which judicial setting had been a lengthy and strategic examination. Clinton said in Mohammed's case, it was the "right way to move forward," for the terrorist suspect to "pay the ultimate price," for his alleged crimes.
On President Obama's Afghanistan strategy decision, Clinton said the United States is not interested in a long-term presence in the region, and the ultimate goal is to "disrupt, dismantle, and defeat," the terrorist connections existing in that country. Clinton said an improved security presence would promote Afghan independence.
CBS: FACE THE NATION - Hoekstra: KSM trial will be a circus; Leahy: KSM will be convicted
Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) dismissed Attorney General Holder's decision to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed in a civilian court in New York as a certain circus, saying it may take several years to sort out such a trial.
"This is ideology run wild," Hoekstra said. "We're going to go back into New York City, the scene of the tragedy on 9/11. We're now going to rip that wound wide open and it's going to stay open for, what, two, three, four years as we go through the circus of a trial in New York City?"
Sen. Patrick Leavy (D-Vt.) disagreed, saying America's judicial system can of course handle these trials, and to avoid using our own courts is a sign of fear and a show of doubt in the system.
"We're the most powerful nation on earth," Leahy said in a separate interview. "We have a judicial system that is the envy of the world. Let's show the world that we can use that power. We can use our judicial system, just as we did with Timothy McVeigh, and send the people -- and convict the people."
Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said that no one like Mohammed deserves the right Americans are afforded through civilian courts.
"I would have put him through the military tribunal process," Hoekstra said. "We started that process. They pled guilty. Why won't the president take guilty for an answer and say now let's go on to the sentencing phase?"
Crimes committed in America should be tried in America, Leahy said.
"If somebody comes into our country and murders somebody walking down the street, we're going to prosecute them here," said Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It doesn't make any difference whether they're Americans or not Americans. They committed the crime in America, and that's what he did."
Leahy also contradicted claims that the vast amount of waterboarding KSM received will result in a botched conviction.
"I think that we have plenty of evidence as obtained outside of the -- whatever he said in waterboarding," Leahy said. "Keep in mind, they indicted him long before this waterboarding. They had evidence enough to bring indictments against him long before that. I don't -- with the review that I've had of the evidence available, I have no question that they have enough evidence untainted by the waterboarding that will be admissible in court. And he will be convicted."
Hoekstra insisted moving prisoners currently held at Guantanamo to a maximum security prison in Illinois would be mistake, saying that Gitmo has been invaluable for America and that Obama has not thought this through.
"What problem is the president going to solve by moving these trials to New York or by moving Gitmo prisoners to Michigan, to Illinois, to Colorado?" Hoekstra asked. "He hasn't outlined what problem he's solving. I don't see the problem of moving them from Gitmo. It's been a great place. We've been able to keep them there safely. There are certain challenges with these prisoners. Why move them into the United States while we are still under the threat from radical jihadists?"
FOX NEWS SUNDAY - Republicans: KSM belongs in a tribunal
Former republican New York mayor Rudy Guiliani said the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, is "a war criminal" who should be tried at a military tribunal, not a federal court. Guiliani said he understood the symbolism of trying Mohammed in New York, only blocks away from the former World Trade Center site, but that doing so played into the terrorism suspect's hands. Guiliani said there is "another choice, a better choice," and that would be through the military commissions.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said trying Mohammed in New York would be giving him "the show trial he desires."
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, said it would be a mistake to try Mohammed in a military commission because it would portray the terrorism suspect as the "image of a solider." Reed said it "vindicated this country's core values," that the people who suffered incredible losses in the September 11 attacks bring Mohammed to justice in a federal court and serve him his punishment.
On health care Sen. McConnell said Senate Republicans deserve a fair amount of time to review and debate the health care bill produced out of majority leader Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nevada) office. He said Republicans needed a significant amount of deliberation to digest the bill's more than 2,000 pages, and would require weeks of floor arguments about certain inclusions. McConnell said he would not support a bill that used federal money to fund abortions. He said the House bill was signed relatively quickly and approved massive cuts to Medicare, huge tax increases and raised insurance premiums. McConnell said the final Senate bill would have many amendments that limited additions to the national budget deficit.
C-SPAN: NEWSMAKERS - Gregg: Costs still out of control
Sen. Judd Gregg (D-N.H.), ranking member of the Budget Committee, said the bill that came out of the House of Representatives did not control costs. He said there are a series of specific amendments the Senate bill would implement that would save the government money. Gregg said cutting defensive health care techniques and costly unnecessary testing would take away from the three trillion dollar price tag of health care reform.
Gregg also said targeting certain "disease groups," such as obesity and Alzheimer's disease, ailments that require long term funding, would lower the government's expenditures. He said the federal government should offer subsidized incentives to employers to reward workers with cash for making healthier lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, or losing weight. He said this would lead to a healthier nation and a smaller long term federal health care funding footprint.
November 15, 2009; 1:53 PM ET
Categories: 44 Native , Sunday Talkies
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