RUDY REVELS IN NEW-FOUND RELEVANCE…. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who left office nearly a decade ago and has no political responsibilities since, was all over the news this morning. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is headed to NYC, and for much of the media, even now, 9/11 = Giuliani.
Here’s Giuliani’s basic pitch, as he put it to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos:
“Our federal system has an enormously protracted process that’s going to go on forever. It grants more benefits than a military tribunal will grant. There’s always the possibility of acquittal, change of venue… It creates an extra risk that isn’t necessary for New York. Now, New York can handle it, there is no question about it, but why add an additional risk when you don’t have to do that?
“I’m troubled by the symbolism of it. It seems to me that the Obama administration is getting away from the fact that we’re at war with these terrorists. They no longer use the term ‘war on terror.’ They have been very slow to react to the whole situation with Major Hasan, which was clearly a terrorist act in the name of Islamic terrorism. It would seem to me that this is the worst symbol to send, that this is a civilian matter.”
There are some interesting layers to this, so let’s unpack it.
First, Giuliani criticizes the federal criminal justice system. That’s an odd choice of political strategies — not only is Giuliani himself a former federal prosecutor, but this same “federal system” that he’s dismissive of has proven itself quite effective in trying, convicting, and imprisoning all kinds of terrorists over the last couple of decades.
Second, Giuliani is worried about acquittals. That’s not going to happen.
Third, Giuliani went on and on about the “risk” posed by a trial, but he neglected to identify what this “risk” is. I’m genuinely curious — what does he think will happen? Terrorists might target NYC? Not to put too fine a point on it, but terrorists have already targeted NYC. The city has held other trials for other terrorists, without incident. By Giuliani’s reasoning, there should no legal proceedings against terrorists anywhere, because they might be magnets for attacks. In other words, Giuliani thinks we should let fear dictate our justice system. Fortunately, that’s just not how the United States operates.
Fourth, Giuliani shifts gears away from actual problems with putting KSM on trial, and complains about “symbolism.” That’s backwards — what can have more symbolic value than the United States showing the world the strength of our values and the integrity of our rule of law?
Fifth, Giuliani’s convinced that White House is moving away from “war with these terrorists.” It’s possible that the former mayor doesn’t keep up on current events, so here’s a quick refresher for him: under Obama’s watch, U.S. forces have killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Baitullah Mehsud, while taking suspected terrorists Najibullah Zazi, Talib Islam, and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi into custody before they could launched potential attacks.
Giuliani thinks Obama is “getting away from” counter-terrorism? In reality, President Obama is playing by the rules and having great success in counter-terrorism. The administration isn’t relying on torture, and is nevertheless stopping, catching, and killing the bad guys — all while improving the United States’ standing in the world and reclaiming America’s role as a global leader.
Giuliani thinks that’s a record worthy of criticism. Giuliani doesn’t know what he’s talking about.