Al Qaeda’s Useful Idiots

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Amendment VI

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

At stake in this case is nothing less than the essence of a free society. Even more important than the method of selecting the people’s rulers and their successors is the character of the constraints imposed on the Executive by the rule of law. Unconstrained Executive detention for the purpose of investigating and preventing subversive activity is the hallmark of the Star Chamber. Access to counsel for the purpose of protecting the citizen from official mistakes and mistreatment is the hallmark of due process. — Justice Stevens, dissenting opinion, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, June 28, 2004

* * *

Righties can’t get through their heads that the issue is not what Jose Padilla did; the issue is what we did. Padilla’s association with terrorists justified arrest and conviction. It did not justify arbitrarily stripping Jose Padilla of his rights as a citizen. If Padilla’s rights can be dismissed on the mere say-so of a high government official, then so can yours, or mine, or even Michelle Malkin’s. And there was absolutely no justification for nearly four years of inhumane treatment.

In the last post I wrote that Padilla had been subjected to nearly four years of torture. Some rightie commenters questioned that. A couple sent me emails declaring that nothing Padilla experienced was torture. A little unpleasant, perhaps. But clearly, these are people who think they could take it. “I don’t consider water-boarding torture,” declares Allahpundit stoutly. Brave lad.

Years of sensory deprivation and near-death by drowning are considered torture by experts, but righties thump their chests and declare these to be no big deal. But at the mere mention of “terrorism” they flush the Constitution down the toilet.

Not so brave, I say.

I was in lower Manhattan on 9/11. I saw the towers collapse. I know what terrorism can do. Yet I am not such a coward that I would compromise so much as a comma of the Bill of Rights for the promise of safety.

These sniveling, pathetic little weenies who celebrate Jose Padilla’s detention and refuse to acknowledge the real issues of unlawful detention and torture are the real cowards. They dismiss what was done to Padilla, yet they are so afraid of terrorists they betray the central founding values of our country. And they think they could stand up to waterboarding! They’ve already caved!

The word disgust doesn’t even come close to what I think of them.

John Cole writes at Balloon Juice:

I guess where I stand is as follows- I still do not understand why it was necessary to keep this guy in solitary confinement until he was basically a grunting vegetable. I just don’t. Why was it necessary to violate his rights as a citizen? Why keep him from a lawyer? Why?

It couldn’t have impacted our current operations in Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere- this guy was convicted for attempting to do undetermined bad things in Chechnya. I haven’t seen any allegations he was a terrorist mastermind or anything like that- not to pick on Taco Bell employees, but I doubt it is their planning genius that has them spending their days taking orders and handing out salsa packets. And hell, if he is that big of a threat, now that we have him convicted, let’s try him on the real charges- the dirty bomb, the apartment bombing schemes. You know- the reason we grabbed him in the first place.

So, why?

The only thing I can think of is that after they realized there was no real plot to dirty bomb, or blow up apartments, the only thing they could do to save face was to lock him up forever- which I think they would have tried to do, had the SCOTUS not rumbled.

At any rate- convictions of criminals and terrorists are supposed to inspire confidence in our system of justice and our government. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am not inspired by anything that has happened in this case. Quite the opposite. I am profoundly uncomfortable with the notion that our government can grab anyone they want (Oh- but they won’t- if you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t have to worry!), say whatever they want about them in the press, do whatever they want with them for years on end, and then try them for completely different things. Al Qaeda would have to come a long way and take some serious effort to hurt me- the FBI has an office a few miles from me and the feds apparently now have a license to do whatever the hell they want with someone, so long as they think he is a bad guy. Understand? For obvious reasons, that should bother every American.

It should bother every American. Somehow, it doesn’t. Check out this guy commenting on Michelle Malkin’s site:

Padilla’s Guilty!!! yeah…

The thing is I don’t feel like celebrating since there are alot of Americans that share his islamofacist beliefs that would rather kill a fellow American than defend democracy.

Democracy, you flaming idiot? You just sold out democracy.

Here’s another one:

Some liberals will pretend this is nothing to be happy about, while other liberals will try to be delighted by this news while not giving the President or the military any credit for it.

I will say the same thing I said after we caught Saddam…

We should take Padilla, and shove the American flag up his hide until he goes to the toilet red, white and blue. Then we should hang an Israeli flag from his (redacted).

We should put large pictures of the Danish cartoons within full view of his cell. He should be monitored by female prison guards, preferrably evangelicals.

Then every time he yells “Allah Akbar,” they should respond, “Jesus loves you.”

We should force him to watch waterboarding videos set to Jan and Dean’s, “Surfing USA.”

Liberals objecting to this should be invited to share a cell with him to see how the poor misunderstood boy is doing.

The LA Times can immediately ask for his release in the tradition of their love for John Walker Lindh.

3000 Americans were murdered. We should never relent. Every waking minute this fellow is in prison should be a reminder of how enraged we are at what he did.

This reminds me of what John Homans said (emphasis added) —

The memory of 9/11 continues to stoke a weepy sense of American victimhood, and victimhood, as used by both left and right, is a powerful political force. As the dog whisperer can tell you, strength and woundedness together are a dangerous combination. Now, 9/11 has allowed American victim politics to be writ larger than ever, across the globe. When someone from Tulsa, for example, says, “It’s important to remember 9/11 every day,” what he means is, “We were attacked, we are the aggrieved victims, we are justified.” But if we were victims then, we are less so now. This distorted sense of American weakness is weirdly mirrored in the woundedness and shame that motivate our adversaries. In our current tragicomedy of Daddy-knows-best, it’s a national neurosis, a perpetual childhood. (With its 9/11 truth-conspiracy theories, the far left has its own infantile daddy complex, except in that version, the daddies are the source of all evil.) No doubt, there are real enemies, Islamist and otherwise, more than ever (although the cure—the Iraq war—has inarguably made the disease worse). But the spectacular scope of 9/11, its psychic power, continues to distort America’s relationships. It will take years for the country to again understand its place in the world.

Here’s another commenter on Malkin’s site:

What the Padilla case shows is President Bush should not have excluded (in his November 2001 Executive Order) anyone, anywhere from trial by military commission for terror related crimes. Those Americans capture in America during WWII were prosecuted that way and some were even executed via the death penalty.

Actually, I prefer that terrorists be killed on the spot, wherever we find them… That should get the libs excited but I wrote exactly what I think.

I suspect this person meant to say “Germans captured in America during WWII.” But of course we know exactly who is guilty and who isn’t without trial, because of the big “G” that shows up on their foreheads. Oh, wait …


“Does al-Qaeda still constitute an ‘existential’ threat?” asks David Kilcullen, who has written several influential papers on the need for a new strategy against Islamic insurgents. Kilcullen, who as an Australian army officer commanded counter-insurgency units in East Timor, recently served as an adviser in the Pentagon and is now a senior adviser on counterterrorism at the State Department. He was referring to the argument about whether the terrorism of the twenty-first century endangers the very existence of the United States and its allies, as the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons did throughout the Cold War (and as the remnants of that arsenal still might).

“I think it does, but not for the obvious reasons,” Kilcullen told me. He said the most useful analogy was the menace posed by European anarchists in the nineteenth century. “If you add up everyone they personally killed, it came to maybe 2,000 people, which is not an existential threat.” But one of their number assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The act itself took the lives of two people. The unthinking response of European governments in effect started World War I. “So because of the reaction they provoked, they were able to kill millions of people and destroy a civilization.

“It is not the people al-Qaeda might kill that is the threat,” he concluded. “Our reaction is what can cause the damage. It’s al-Qaeda plus our response that creates the existential danger.” [James Fallows, “Declaring Victory,” The Atlantic Monthly, September 2006]

Update: Must read — Marty Lederman at Balkinization.

17 thoughts on “Al Qaeda’s Useful Idiots

  1. Pingback: The Mahablog » Michelle Malkin Hates Our Freedoms

  2. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, when we faced an enemy who already had nukes and an Air Force, it was “better dead than red” and Congressmen from the two parties could have a drink together after hours.

    Now it’s “the Constitution is not a suicide pact” and anybody who thinks differently is a “with the terrorists”.

    How times have changed.

  3. Maha,

    How dare you start by referencing the articles of the constitution? Have you not heard that those words are simply irrelevant? We as consumers can not rely on the constitution anymore; we only trust the Global markets. Please stop trying to make sense. You are only confusing the masses. The more you insist on democracy, the farther we get from what brought us here. Stop making sense or the people may win.

  4. Those useful idiots are functioning on a lower intellectual plane ( bottom feeders). They can’t understand or value abstract reasoning. And they certainly don’t have a viable sense of history. They got their pound of flesh and they’re satisfied even if the flesh has be poisoned.

    A little abstract puzzle…Why was Saddam’s execution like Chinese food?

  5. I think the most revelatory wingnut comment you’ve cited is this one:

    “3000 Americans were murdered. We should never relent. Every waking minute this fellow is in prison should be a reminder of how enraged we are at what he did.”

    Notice the passive construction: “were murdered.” That, of course, avoids the question, “who murdered them?” And the answer is, of course, not Jose Padilla. The 19 people who murdered the 3000 are also dead. But then later on, the commenter speaks of “what he did.” What, exactly? Murder those 3000 Americans? Uh, no, he didn’t, but the commenter seems to imply that he did.

    These people’s logic does not resemble our Earth logic.

  6. Why do you bother linking me? Everytime we try to answer, you simply shut down your comment threads.

    And you have the nerve to call people cowards?

    It is to laugh.

  7. These wingnuts won’t get it until the government personally comes after them. It won’t be real for them until this happens.

    They are so terrified by the specter of The Other, that they don’t realize how this specter was deliberately enhanced to scare them witless, in order to sell out our country. BOO!

  8. There’s something else that bothers me here. It’s crazy… but it makes sense to me.

    Padilla is broken, right? He’s admitted he joined Al Qaeda, but wouldn’t admit to the other things he’s accused of. He was upset with his lawyer for a harsh cross examination of an FBI agent; his lawyer was undermining the commander in chief’s authority.

    If you read his application, what leet skills does he bring to the war? Carpentry. And they never so much as caught him talking in code the way the other defendants did.

    He asked his mom to talk to President Bush on his behalf.

    And this just bugs me. If he’s broken, and guilty, he’d be asking for mercy. If he’s broken and innocent, he’d be asking for intervention. “If only Bush knew the truth, he’d put a stop to this!”

    There’s two models.

    1) Padilla was planning to fight.

    2) Padilla was actually hoping to do some good in the Muslim world.

    I haven’t followed the trial really well, but they say that he wasn’t caught talking in any code words. The only evidence they had was the application. What if the whole dirty bomb crap was, well, crap? What if they got his name through torture (“have to give up someone, might as well give up that worthless loser”)? What if he was just some random joe who got religion and ended up working with a charity that was affiliated with Al Qaeda?

    None of this is proof, but it seems the model of “schmuck who got caught up in bad company” *could* fit better than “actual, honest to goodness terrorist.”

    If he’s as broken as he should be, I think he’d be confessing and begging for mercy. But it sounds like he’s thinking that this is a big mess that someone else can fix.

  9. Differing ideas have no chance for rebuttal here.

    Differing ideas have plenty of chance for rebuttal here. However, righties like you hardly ever leave actual ideas in their comments, just insults, which is why I have to close threads when you start showing up.

  10. Everytime we try to answer, you simply shut down your comment threads.

    But you don’t answer. You just hurl insults. I gave reasons why I think you are cowards, and I stand by them. Can you argue with my reasons? Of course not. All you can do is throw a temper tantrum. This is not “answering.”

  11. Pingback: Padilla guilty; no word yet on Bush’s Government at Thudfactor

  12. So, the guy was founjd for conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim, conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism, and providing material support for terrorism.

    And some folks are sad about that & lash out at the “right wing”.


    Sorry, hope your Friday doesn’t end up COMPLETELY in the dumps as you ponder the fate of poor, poor, Padilla (if so, it’s still the fault of the “right”. Everything bad in your life is their fault, ya know).

  13. I’m keeping #16 up as an object lesson. RW either can’t read or didn’t read what I wrote, so he’s being banned. Righties whine when I cut off their comments, but this is why — you don’t respond to what I write. You miss the point. Your comments are nothing but name calling. I don’t delete your posts because I disagree with your arguments; I delete them because you don’t argue at all. You just hurl insults.

    Update: Yes, I hurl insults, too, but I give reasons for the insults. What are they, you ask? Why don’t you (dare I say it?) actually read the bleeping post and find out.

    Also read comment policy: “I respect and encourage substantive commentary, but comments that are nothing but insults of me or other commenters will be deleted. Repeated attempts to post such comments will get the commenter banned.”

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