Is Obama soft on terror?
Our Readers Who Comment are engaged in a somewhat uncivilized and occasionally fact-starved mud-slinging contest over whether the Obama Administration's reading of rights and providing counsel to the Christmas Day underwear bomber proves that it is soft on terrorism and national security.
Many praise the Bush Administration's use of Guantanamo Bay and military tribunals as the appropriate response. Others applaud the approach taken by Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama. But the heat of the conversation underlines the point that Scott Wilson and Anne E. Kornblut make in writing that national security policy is "likely to be a major issue throughout the midterm election year. "
Readers have filed more than 700 comments on the story as of this writing. Democrat-sounding posters attack the Bush Administration for its record and defend Obama for his. Republican-sounding posters see great weakness in the White House. A couple of self-identified Independents try to see both sides.
We'll start with the following exchange, which pretty well summarizes the more rational comments on both sides of the argument:
rrwickett wrote, "I would like at least one of the posters who I see on this and many other sites who claim that "Obama is setting us up for a major attack" to explain exactly how Obama is setting us up for a major attack. Do you think Bush was "setting us up for a major attack" because the shoe bomber was read his rights and tried in civilian court? If so why didn't we hear it then?"
To which jdcw replied, I don't believe Obama is setting us for a major attack. They are going to try no matter what. But what the President and [Attorney General Eric] Holder are doing is setting the stage for an incident where we capture someone with information about a major attack and we will not be able to protect our citizens because Holder will be there with our Miranda rights..."
seguintx wrote, "The administration is engaging in frantic damage control because it feels very vulnerable on the issue... What I'd really like to know is whether Adulmutallab is actually cooperating and providing actionable intelligence, or if this is White House spin. I hope an Intel Committee closes the door and asks for specifics."
cogito1 said, "The Obama administration has handled the "underwear bomber" skillfully and professionally, and has acquired valuable intelligence by doing so. Contrast this with the ignorant, clumsy rantings of certain Republican pols who can't think outside the Guantanamo/tribunal bag. I'm glad the Democrats are in charge of our security."
KD11 wrote, "...I'm an Independent voter. I strongly support Presidents Obamas response to terrorism. Treat the underwear bomber like a common criminal. Don't give him a chance to be honored as a solder. With Gitmo, give them all trials. It doesn't matter where or what kind of trial. If they're guilty lock them up someplace. It's a done deal. The important part is that they have a trial! How can Americans not understand that basic concept?..."
To which ProudTexan replied, "Yeah there is nothing this countries need more than a few more Al Queda trained radical muslem terrorist housed in our American prisons teaching Jihad classes to their fellow inmates who up for parole in 3 years. That is a brilliant idea!"
patrickmcconnell wrote, "I know every situation is different, but there are no standard guidelines as to whom to treat as an enemy combatant. How should Timothy McVeigh be treated today? Or the Unabomber? Is a connection to Al-Qaeda the only determining factor? If so, what happens if a domestic group that just hates the government starts blowing things up? This issue is becoming too much of a political issue and isn't fair to anyone within our civilian and military justice systems. Congress and the Administration need to work together to come up with clear guidelines!"
But powerange weighed in a couple of hours later by saying, "Dem libs can defend their handling of the Christmas terrorist and compare it to the shoe bomber....the shoe bomber's handling was a MISTAKE by the Bush Administration and rather than learn from that, the dem libs are making the same mistake....shoe bomber pleaded guilty and there was no trial...this Christmas dude will get the full O.J. treatment... other terrorists...only have to fear being read their Miranda rights...Leaderless in America continues"
g30rg3544 observed, "If this guy's lawyer is letting him talk to the Feds he has obviously been offered some kind of a deal."
gsms69 said, "So even if he is talking, how do you know he is telling the truth. And do we think that the enemy would not change any attack that they think the bomber might know about? Are we that naive? Holder is but are we?"
njva17420 wrote, "Isn't it about time that the morons on the right -- including some of these posters -- shut thair yaps and acknowledged that the Administration is doing a creditable job in this case? [Sen.] Susan Collins [R-Maine] and newby [Sen.] Scott Brown [R-Mass.] should pay attention to the facts before shooting their mouths off."
blert said, "Republicans really are behaving like idiots on this issue. Yes, I think we need to be tough on terror, and, yes, I think we need to call the government to task for not flagging this terrorist down before he got onto a flight carrying explosives. However, what Republicans are urging is to suspend the rule of law... Abdulmutallab deserves legal counsel and to be read his rights, just as any criminal suspect does, but a plea deal? That would not fit the crime, and it would be political suicide for Obama."
onexge wrote, "I'd have thought that a true conservative would want to conserve the bedrock principles of anglo-american jurisprudence enshrined in the Magna Carta - you know, that document by which the King of England conceded that he didn't have the right to lock up someone just because he or his bureaucrats felt like it - instead of casting them aside in a fit of panic..."
magnifco1000 said, "Look, if he were tortured like the guys at GITMO, do you really think he would say more then he has already? Where is the proof that torturing all those guys at GITMO made any difference in terms of intelligence collected anyway? Not only that, we know several, at least, committed suicide shortly after being tortured. This entire idea that the most productive way is to just beat the hell out of these guys is apparently the Republican response to "being tough on terror." Not only does it raise ethical concerns that America is doing this, but it also is highly dubious in terms of effectiveness."
powerange wrote, "...Ft Hood and the recruiting station murders were acts of terrorism and I'd say they were indeed "successful." Christmas dude would have been successful if he wasn't such a dud... thanks for the dem libs weak handling of terrorism. They have done nothing but encourage more of the same. 2010 elections start the reset."
We'll close with this somewhat irrational exchange:
Slager21 wrote, "...The folks who trained the underwear bomber were released from GITMO because of the pressure brought to bear by the anti-American liberal Democrat front organizations which umbrella with the ACLU. Now that the same liberals have ascended to power National Security has become like watching a bunch of 3 year olds playing with cat dung in a sand box for obvious reasons."
To which ozma1 replied, "Your completely evidence-free assertion is pretty comical given the amount of weird mental contortion you must have had to have done to write such. By the way, STILL love your highly insightful and intellectual way with words."
All comments on this article are here.
February 4, 2010; 7:13 AM ET
| Tags: Miranda, National Security, Obama, Terrorism, Waterboarding
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