Eric Holder

Recall President Obama’s foreign policy; Constitutional rights to 9/11 war criminals

Between now and Election Day 2012, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America will take a look back at President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Today, we remember this:

November 2009:

Attorney General Eric Holder wants to fly Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into New York City, cloak him and his four “co-defendants” with liberties they would deny every American, and gamble he can get the worst of the worst past a gauntlet of federal judges and Supreme Court Justices.

Lower Manhattan is hallowed ground. … Twelve days after 9/11, [my family and I] attended a meeting of families and firefighters near Ground Zero. As I stepped from the car, my shoes sunk down into perhaps inch-deep pulverized concrete. It was seeded with the molecules of several thousand precious souls and the blood of hundreds of heroes; that dust also covered nearby Foley Square and the same federal courthouse where Eric Holder wants to give war criminals due process.

In the air and on the ground, those were all war crimes. Military Commissions were created by Congress to prosecute them and protect national security, both Presidents Obama and Bush have signed the Military Commissions Act into law, and the Supreme Court has recently confirmed them as Constitutional. 9/11 was not a tragedy or homicide; it was an act of genocide committed by war criminals.

It is also worth recalling that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has freely admitted his war crimes. Stark evidence proving his assertions was found with him when he was captured:

March 15, 2007: WASHINGTON (CNN) — Admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told a U.S. military tribunal he personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, the Pentagon revealed Thursday.

“I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan,” said a Pentagon transcript of Saturday’s hearing. “For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.”

The admission was part of testimony that was originally removed from a Pentagon transcript of Mohammed’s tribunal at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He also said he was the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks.

“I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z,” Mohammed said through a military representative.

According to the 26-page transcript, a computer hard drive seized during Mohammed’s capture contained photographs of the 19 hijackers and a paper listing the pilot license fees for Mohammed Atta. Atta, the alleged ringleader of the attacks, flew one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.

Debra Burlingame: ‘Those interrogators, CIA case officers are patriots’

Debra Burlingame was interviewed on WMAL radio this morning about her confronting Barack Obama during a meeting at Ground Zero. She explained her reasons for asking the President to express his opinion to Attorney General about dropping the investigation of CIA officers who conducted the enhanced interrogations of detainees:

Try as they might, the Obama administration can not deny the courier was first identified and determined to be a valuable person to find and follow in the hunt for Osama bin Laden during those enhanced interrogations.

Debra Burlingame on Ground Zero meeting with President Obama and CIA interrogations investigation

Debra Burlingame was one of fifty 9/11 family members who met in a closed-door meeting with President Barack Obama today near Ground Zero. She asked him, considering that by all reports the enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees was “part of the mosaic” of the intelligence that led to Osama bin Laden, if he would at least give his opinion to Attorney General Eric Holder about dropping the investigation of CIA interrorgators. President Obama replied, “No, I won’t.” Here is the video of her Fox News interview:

Debra Burlingame on civilian 9/11 trial forum: ‘People stood up and said this is wrong’

On the Tammy Bruce Show today, Debra Burlingame discussed what changed the 9/11 trial forum decision made by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder from a civilian trial to a military commission at Guantanamo. “Peoples’ voices; it really does make a difference.”

Listen to the rest at TammyBruce.com.

Note: While Eric Holder last week blamed “Congress,” it was a Democrat controlled Congress and bi-partisan opposition that repeatedly foiled the plan to transfer and hold Gitmo detainees in the U.S.

Try KSM and al Nashiri at Gitmo now for their war crimes

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder believe the enemy has Constitutional rights. So far, the Supreme Court has not agreed with that assertion. We should put the theories to the test by trying al Nashiri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at Gitmo now.

When Holder brought Ghailani to federal court for trial, he did so knowing a federal judge might not allow the seller of the TNT to testify as he was first identified during Ghailani’s detainee interrogations. Instead of railing against bestowing Constitutional rights upon non-U.S. persons who wage illegal war, Benjamin Wittes and Jack Goldsmith seem to argue we should just wait the enemy out in their op-ed today in the Washington Post:

The government had a difficult time convicting Ghailani in large part because presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan excluded a key witness that the government had acknowledged it knew about through coercive interrogations. Many critics of civilian trials claim that this problem would not have occurred in a military commission, but that is very probably wrong. The legal standard for excluding such evidence in military commissions would depend on the military judge’s sense of the “interests of justice.” The government would be foolish to rely on military judges’ willingness to admit evidence obtained – even in a derivative fashion – as a result of coercion. There is not much reason to think that the government would have had an easier time against Ghailani on this score if it had proceeded in a commission.

Imagine that Ghailani had been acquitted on all counts. The administration would then have faced a terrible choice between releasing him or — as the attorney general and Judge Kaplan have said is possible — continuing to hold him in military detention indefinitely despite his acquittal. The first option would be unsafe for the nation and suicidal politically. The second option would look terrible in light of an acquittal and would harm the legitimacy of every subsequent terrorist trial.

This terrible choice — which came close to becoming a reality — reveals why military detention is fundamental and appropriate here. The reason the first option is unsafe and the second option is available is that Ghailani helped conduct a major terrorist operation on behalf of a group with which the country is at war. Military detention was designed precisely to prevent such fighters from returning to the battlefield. It is a tradition-sanctioned, congressionally authorized, court-blessed, resource-saving, security-preserving, easier-than-trial option for long-term terrorist incapacitation.

As civilians, Ghailani, al Nashiri, and KSM all waged illegal war against the United States by attacking our embassies, the USS Cole, and both civilians and military personnel on 9/11. If no evidence exists to support those assertions, then both President Bush and President Obama had no inherent or Congressional authority to continue to hold them as detainees. Yet abundant evidence exists that all three committed war crimes resulting in the deaths of U.S. persons.

The Supreme Court reaffirmed the President’s authority to indefinitely detain the enemy back in 2004 so their detention is not at issue. That war crimes were committed, they require an accounting, and America’s enemies should not be afforded Constitutional rights are the issues.

Attorney General Holder declined to prosecute Ahmed Ghailani for his post-9/11 activities as a member of al Qaeda. It is telling that Holder announced last year that U.S.S. Cole bomber al Nashiri would be brought to a military commission in the United States only to let the DOJ withdraw those charges in August 2010, as the Washington Post reported:

[C]ritics of military commissions say the Nashiri case exemplifies the system’s flaws, particularly the ability to introduce certain evidence such as hearsay statements that probably would not be admitted in federal court. The prosecution is expected to rely heavily on statements made to the FBI by two Yemenis who allegedly implicated Nashiri. Neither witness is expected at trial, but the FBI agents who interviewed them will testify, said Nashiri’s military attorney, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen C. Reyes. “Unlike in federal court, you don’t have the right to confront the witnesses against you,” he said.

Three of the prosecution’s witnesses against Ahmed Ghailani were not available because they died since testifying in the 2001 trial against the four previously arrested for the 1998 attacks upon our embassies. If our national policy becomes delaying war crime prosecutions until the end of hostilities, it imbues war criminals with a temporary immunity and risks their outliving the means to bring them to justice.

Judge Kaplan’s ruling that the testimony by the seller of the TNT to Ghailani was “fruit of a poisoned tree” is exactly why President Obama and Attorney General Holder hold out hope to someday bring more Gitmo detainees onto U.S. soil and to trial, regardless of the venue. Yet after the Ghailani verdicts, this and future Congresses are unlikely to ever fund bringing them here for that purpose.

This war will not end in our lifetimes or theirs and no President will release al Nashiri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed alive to again wage illegal war upon the United States. Should they be acquitted due to Constitutional protections, America will finally see the wisdom of our Founding Fathers who gave no authority to the Judiciary branch in war. If they are convicted and pay the full measure for their war crimes, justice will at last be served.

Debra Burlingame on KSM trial decision: ‘What will be the consequences’ to Eric Holder? (Steve Malzberg interview audio)

Debra Burlingame discussed the nearing decision on where and how to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow self-confessed 9/11 attack conspirators with WOR talk radio host Steve Malzberg. Why did it take a year for President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to decide? Why did they delay the announcement until after the midterm elections?

Download the mp3 here.

As Steve noted, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo also waited until after the midterms before telling voters of his opposition to the trials being held in New York.

WSJ: ‘officials’ say military commission at Gitmo for KSM

Yesterday, the Wall Street Street Journal reported:

Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday a decision is near on where to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other confessed plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. A key New York lawmaker flatly ruled out Mr. Holder’s earlier choice of federal court in New York City as a venue, and officials say the most likely outcome is a military commission trial at Guantanamo Bay, where the accused men are now held.

That may explain why Human Rights Watch has launched a taxicab video campaign:

The “man-on-the-street” style video, filmed around parts of Lower Manhattan, features more than a dozen anonymous city residents, from formally dressed bankers to street vendors, who speak directly to the camera, declaring, “I’m a New Yorker.” The speakers proclaim their support for the trials to be held in the city: “Here, here, because the crime was committed here,” one says. The advertisement ends by urging viewers to “stand up for 9/11 trials in New York” and suggesting a visit to the group’s Facebook page.

Gridlock, high security, and enemy propaganda would happen here, in lower Manhattan, at the same time the National September 11 Memorial and Museum was opening, if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is brought to trial six blocks from the World Trade Center, as Debra Burlingame explained on Fox News with Megyn Kelly:

Obviously, Human Rights Watch has no regard for the safety, livelihoods, and opinions of New York City residents and Americans in general.

We will soon learn whether President Barack Obama shares their indifference.

Judge bars major witness in Ghailani trial; will Obama and Holder leave appeal and ‘clean team’ question for KSM trial?

The New York Times reports:

A federal judge barred prosecutors on Wednesday from using a crucial witness in the first trial of a former Guantánamo detainee, adding to the fierce debate over whether the government can successfully prosecute terrorist detainees in civilian court. The trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who faces charges in the 1998 bombings of two United States Embassies in East Africa, has been seen as a test of President Obama’s goal of moving many other detainees, like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, into federal court and, ultimately, closing Guantánamo.

Prosecutors say the disputed witness, Hussein Abebe, sold Mr. Ghailani the TNT used to blow up the embassy in Dar es Salaam. They say that Mr. Abebe agreed voluntarily to testify against Mr. Ghailani, and that his decision to cooperate was linked only remotely to the interrogation. Mr. Abebe had been characterized by prosecutors as a “giant witness for the government.” On Friday, a prosecutor, Michael Farbiarz, explained in court that without Mr. Abebe’s testimony about selling the TNT to Mr. Ghailani, “the government has no way of putting such evidence in front of the jury at all.” But in a three-page order, Judge Kaplan said that “the government has failed to prove that Abebe’s testimony is sufficiently attenuated from Ghailani’s coerced statements to permit its receipt in evidence.”

If President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder do not now appeal Judge Kaplan’s decision, it would perhaps leave in legal limbo to a federal trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed whether evidence derived from coercive interrogations and ‘clean team’ interrogations may be entered into evidence in federal court.

Do the American people want them to wait and take that risk during the trial of the mastermind of 9/11?

Prior to Judge Kaplan’s decision, Andrew McCarthy explained why prosecutors did not attempt to introduce the results of the 2007 ‘clean team’ interrogations by the FBI that also resulted in the identification of the man who sold Ghailani the explosives used in the 1998 bombing of our embassy in Tanzania:

The Justice Department figured it could roll those dice because it has a witness, Hussein Abebe, who is prepared to testify that he sold Ghailani the TNT. Not so fast, say Ghailani’s lawyers. They argue that the government learned about Abebe only because of Ghailani’s confession. By their lights, having agreed not to use it, the government implicitly concedes that the confession is toxic; therefore, the argument goes, it is no more proper for prosecutors to call a witness discovered because of the confession than it would be to use the confession itself.

If Holder and the prosecutors successfully appeal Kaplan’s decision and Ghailani is convicted, it would form the basis for an appeal that quite likely would be decided by the Supreme Court.

If they proceed with Ghailani’s trial without the direct testimony from the man who sold Ghailani the explosives and Ghailani is acquitted, there would be no post-trial appeal of the decision. Yet the public’s outrage would almost surely force Congress to ban bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any Guantanamo detainee to the U.S. for trial.

Keep America Safe’s Chairman Liz Cheney put it this way:

“The Obama Administration has dedicated itself to providing al Qaeda terrorists the kind of due process rights normally reserved for American citizens. By insisting on trying Ahmed Ghailani in civilian court with full constitutional rights, instead of by military commission, President Obama and Attorney General Holder are jeopardizing the prosecution of a terrorist who killed 224 people at U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. If the American people needed any further proof that this Administration’s policy of treating terrorism like a law enforcement matter is irresponsible and reckless, they received it today.”