Politics as usual: Another Washington deal

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They’re at it again. This time they are playing with fire.

First, some background:

Overwhelming numbers of Americans do not want terrorists tried in civilian courts.

Rather, the people say military tribunals are appropriate. And, Guantanamo is the best site for them.

Similar numbers of citizens say they do not want Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four henchmen tried in New York City or anywhere stateside. Ditto for other terrorists.

We know all this from national polls taken after three Obama administration announcements that they:

would close Guantanamo,

would try captured terrorists in civilian court, and

would bring Khalid Sheik Mohammed to the U.S. for trial.

Stunned by the news, the public reaction grew quickly following Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the administration would bring Mohammed into the U.S. to try him in civilian court near the site of the Twin Towers.

Initially, local officials stood with the president and AG Holder.

But, the American people would not be swayed.

As a result, within days, New York area officials began to back pedal. Eventually, most would step away from the president.

Along with these three missteps, the Obama administration blindly proceeded to look for sites in the United States to house the captured terrorists they intend to bring here from Guantanamo.

That too makes no sense in the view of most Americans.

It is yet another example of an administration that makes increasingly out-of-touch decisions.

Over recent months, political analysts have suggested that the mistake prone administration needed to find a way out of their self-inflicted predicament. No doubt they may also need time to bleed out their native recalcitrance to all things sensible.

Enter Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Donning his familiar politics-as-usual cloak Sen. Graham has been visiting the White House quite frequently these past several months. Now, we may know why—and what—he was bringing under that cloak.

This weekend, the senior senator from South Carolina was a featured guest on a Sunday talk show. What he said sounded like the public preamble of yet another political deal. Here’s a recap:

In an apparent sop to President Obama, Sen. Graham said “Reversing Attorney General Eric Holder’s plan to try suspected terrorists in a civilian court in New York City would be seen as an act of leadership by the public.”

No, Senator, it would not. At best, it will be seen for what it is—politically expedient.

“If the president agrees to try alleged September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four henchmen in military tribunals, he (Senator Lindsey Graham) will press fellow Republicans to vote to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.”

Why would any American—including a U.S. Senator—agree to close Guantanamo?

Any American who supports closing Guantanamo must come to grips with the resultant reality—all terrorists held at Guantanamo would have to be relocated or released.

Is Sen. Lindsey Graham saying he supports bringing terrorists onto the United States mainland for detention, trial or both?

And, between the lines, is Graham saying civilian courts would be used for those other trials.

Further, doesn’t Sen. Graham realize that liberal progressives will increase pressure to release more detainees?

And, has Graham forgotten that, according to the defense department, many of those previously released terrorists have returned to the military battlefield?

Finally, the deal-making Sen. Graham also said “We need a legal system that gives due process to the detainee, but also understands they didn’t rob a liquor store.”

The truth is we already have legal systems that do just that.

For civilians who commit crimes, following capture, typically they are charged, tried, and if convicted sentenced appropriate to the felony: robbery of a liquor store versus assault or death of another person.

Historically, during declared war, military combatants captured on the battlefield are held throughout the duration of the conflict. Terrorists, wherever captured, at minimum should be held indefinitely, if not tried and executed. No terrorist should be tried in civilian courts; nor should any terrorist be afforded the due process rights reserved for U.S. citizens in civilian courts. Those terrorists deemed for trial should be charged and tried in military tribunals using military justice guidelines.

Yes, it remains politics as usual—with another Washington deal—that’s not in the people’s interest.

Of course, there could be more to this.

The way things have been unfolding, President Obama will need a new attorney general.

If this proffered deal is not also part of a job application package, it will certainly serve to put Sen. Graham on the president’s short list.

Richard Olivastro is president of Olivastro Communications, a professional member of the National Speakers Association, and founder of Citizens For Change (www.CFC.us). He can be reached via email: RichOlivastro@gmail.com or via telephone: 877.RichSpeaks.