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The Obama Administration's Message to Terrorist Detainees: Lawyer-Up

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Posted on August 26 2009 6:33 am

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The New York Times today carried a front page article with the headline “Records show Strict Rules for CIA Interrogations.” It almost appeared for a moment that the Times was taking a step back from the obsession it shares with other left-wing outlets such as MSNBC over what it now concedes were a few “aberations in the field.”

But hold on.  One has to read just a few paragraphs into the article  to understand the Times‘ real purpose in publishing it.   The Times is carrying the torch for the anti-war left’s campaign to put the entire Bush administration, “from the White House on down,” on trial because “any prosecution that focuses narrowly on low-level interrogators who on a few occasions broke the rules may appear unfair.” 

The Times‘ authority on the subject is the ACLU, whose spokesperson was quoted in the article as saying, “Any investigation that began and ended with the so-called rogue interrogators would be completely inadequate”.

The O’Reilly Factor also made the Obama administration’s disastrous re-opening of cases of alleged detainee abuse its lead story last night; unsurprisingly O’Reilly had a very different take on the potential consequences of such investigations. However, speculation on the show about one possible motive for the decision to investigate Bush-era officials was off the mark.

According to one theory, the CIA investiagtion decision was a lame attempt to divert attention away from Obama’s health care fiasco.  But the reality is that the decision reflects this administration’s philosophy that al Qaeda leaders and other suspected Islamic terrorists should be accorded constitutional protections comparable to those of criminal defendants in our civil courts.  The Obama administration is bending over backwards to make it virtually impossible to gain timely intelligence from high-value Islamic jihadist detainees.

In his initial interrogation by CIA officers, according to former CIA Director George Tenet, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed had defiantly told them, “I’ll talk to you guys after I get to New York and see my lawyer.” Waterboarding changed his mind, and the information he subsequently supplied saved thousands of lives.

If a high-value detainee like Mohammed were to be captured now, not only would enhanced interrogation techniques be out of bounds.  He could well be read his “right” to remain silent.  If he lawyers-up under interrogation, that could well be the end of the questioning until his attorneys can be present.  This is no exagerration.  

The Obama administration has reportedly embarked on a new policy under which increasing numbers of terrorists detained in Afghanistan are being read Miranda warnings. Yes, you read that correctly.  Miranda warnings, which the Supreme Court said must be given by law-enforcement officers and agents to criminal defendants, to inform them of their right to remain silent and their right to have an attorney present during questioning, are evidently now being given to suspected Islamic terrorists caught in the battlefields of Afghanistan!

Obama has taken to praising Winston Churchill for upholding democratic values and the rule of law even at a time when London was being intensively bombed.  But in fact Churchill argued in cabinet meetings that Hitler was “the mainspring of evil” and “an outlaw,” and said that trials of top Nazis would be nothing more than a “farce.” Instead, Churchill’s advice was to “execute the principal criminals as outlaws — if no ally wants them.”

Obama would no doubt consider his new-found hero’s advice to be too harsh, to say the least.  But giving the Islamic terrorist suspects caught in Afghanistan the opportunity to lawyer-up surely is a farce of gargantuan proportions.   And re-opening past cases of enhanced interrogation only brings more aid and comfort to the enemy by chilling effective interrogation in the future.

Perhaps the interrogators and the detainees can share attorneys in the field to advise on the proper limits of interrogation. If we are going to treat the detainees with kid gloves and possibly release them anyway, at least the shared lawyers will save us time and money.

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