SENATOR CONRAD PLAYS THE “LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT” CARD
Posted by Andrew Roman on November 25, 2009
Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota – who, by the way, is not up for election next year (as astutely pointed out by Rob at Say Anything) – says that if any of us don’t believe in our system (as he does), we might want to consider going elsewhere; a kind of twenty-first century variation of “America, love it or leave it.” Of course, he is referring to those of us who are enraged that enemy combatants who waged war on the United States are being tried in a civilian court in New York City. He is talking about those of us who despise the fact that terrorists captured on the battle field have been granted the Constitutional protection of American citizens. In his mind, American “civilian courts are well-suited to prosecute Al-Qaeda terrorists.”
Matt Cover of CNS News writes:
On Capitol Hill on Nov. 19, CNSNews.com asked Conrad: “We’re going to have a civilian trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. If our troops–the evidence against him is going to be found in Afghanistan, there on the battlefield–if our troops need to enter a house and they think that there’s evidence there, should they have to establish probable cause and get a search warrant from a judge first?”
Conrad said: “You’re not being serious about these questions, are you?”
CNSNews.com: “[Yes], in a civilian trial. If I was on trial or you were on trial, that would have to be [done].”
Conrad responded, “We have tried terrorists in our courts and done so very successfully in the past and that is our system. So if people don’t believe in our system, maybe they ought to go somewhere else. I believe in America.”
There are two points to make here.
First, as Rob at Say Anything explains, the terrorists that have been tried in civilian court in the past, like Timothy McVeigh and the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, were apprehended “domestically by domestic law enforcement officials.” By contrast, the 9/11 co-conspirators who will stand trial in New York were captured by military forces on the field of battle or in the prosecution of war. Therefore, they were not subject to the guidelines and procedures of “civilian judicial standards.” It’s difficult to imagine that there will not a host of legal issues to contend with when those captured as enemy combatants are tried as civilians.
Second, this is a matter of national security. These “defendants,” with the same protections afforded American civilian criminals, will have access to intelligence that cannot be denied them. Thus, by definition, civilian courts are not well-suited to prosecuting war criminals.
Conrad also dismissed a question about the rights of terrorists captured on foreign battlefields and the rules of evidence in terms of a civilian court trial as not serious.
Talk show host Larry Elder pointed out on Monday (while substituting for Dennis Prager) that the “rules of evidence” in the 1993 World Trace Center bombing trials resulted in security compromises:
“You know, in the trial of the first bombing of the World Trade Center, and the trial of blind Sheikh, people don’t realize how much information was given to the bad guys because of those trials, because in a civilian trial you have a right to have everything the prosecution has.
And so, because of those two trials, Osama Bin Ladin found out he was an unindicted co-conspirator – that we were after his butt – and he moved from Sudan to Afghanistan because of that. Because of those trials, Al-Qaeda found out that we tracking their whereabouts via their cell phones. They stopped using their cell phones.”
Believing in America, Mr. Conrad, has nothing to do with having to accept asinine political plays that literally put the security of the nation at risk.
It’s about keeping America safe.