Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The ACLU’s Terror Lobby
by Andrew Walden
Earlier this month, the Obama administration moved to transfer alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from the military justice system at Guantanamo Bay to the jurisdiction of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Behind this move away from the military tribunal system, which delivered justice so effectively at Nuremburg, is an $8.5 million lobbying effort by the so-called “John Adams Project” launched in April, 2008 by the American Civil Liberties Union. With the endorsement of Clinton Attorney General Janice Reno, former boss of Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as former President Jimmy Carter, FBI and CIA chief William Webster, and others from both Republican and Democratic administrations, the ACLU‘s victory on behalf of the man sometimes described as “al Qaeda’s CEO” is also a defeat in the U.S.-led war on terror. Thanks to the ACLU, a terrorist like KSM will now enjoy the constitutional rights reserved for American citizens.
The civilian trial of a leading terrorist is the culmination of a years-long campaign by the ACLU to handicap U.S. efforts in the war on terror. The ACLU responded to the 9/11 attacks with the formation of its so-called National Security Project. Under the leadership of the ACLU and its ideological affiliate, the so-called Center for Constitutional Rights, hundreds of lawyers from top law firms have worked without pay to “serve the caged prisoners,” as they call the terrorist detainees in American custody. Their assault on the courts, combined with Democratic electoral gains in 2006 and 2008, has seriously undermined the military commission system.
With the ACLU and CCR lawyers having long claimed that the failure to provide constitutional rights to terrorist captives is a crisis for the United States, the Obama administration has stepped in to “solve” it by transferring Mohammed and the four others to civilian courts. But, to the ALCU and its liberal allies, the al-Qaeda defendants are merely pawns in a larger game aimed at shackling the American and international forces who have been fighting al-Qaeda since 9/11.
Many of the ACLU’s campaigns have taken place under the “National Security Project.” Led by its CAIR-affiliated director, Jameel Jaffer, it reveals a broader picture of ACLU’s ongoing sabotage of American national security.
* In AAR v. Chertoff and ASA v. Chertoff, the ACLU is fighting US denial of a visa application to Muslim Brotherhood propagandist Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan and South African Professor Adam Habib, accused of “engaging in terrorist activities.”
* On behalf of three al Qaeda operatives, the ACLU is suing Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing airplane leasing subsidiary, based on allegations that its planes were used to transport illegal enemy combatants. The target is a single company, but in conjunction with the other facets of the ACLU plan, the objective is to use the threat of civil liability and the broad-brush accusation of “torture” to deny the US Department of Defense the use of private contractors upon which it depends for many essential functions.
* In Kind Hearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development, Inc. v. Paulson et al. the ACLU seeks to protect an Islamist “charity” shut down in 2006 by the US Treasury Department for funneling money to Hamas. “Kind Hearts” is the successor to the shuttered Hamas fundraiser “Holy Land Foundation”. The objective is to prevent the US Treasury Department from halting suspected terrorist financiers and freezing their assets—even though ordinary drug dealers are subject to seizure and forfeiture on a daily basis.
* ACLU v. DOD –the ACLU seeks to force exposure of WOT-related US government documents which may be used by US and foreign prosecutors to go after individual US and international military and intelligence personnel — and after defense contractors if the right kind of precedent is created in Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc . John Adams Project operatives are also photographing CIA agents and giving the photos to Guantanamo detainees in order to generate torture allegations.
* In Amnesty v. McConnell, the ACLU seeks to eliminate the right of the US government to spy without warrant on international telecommunication traffic. This is a right exercised by Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush and now by Obama–as well as many Presidents before them. An ACLU victory in this case could subject numerous US military and intelligence personnel telephone companies and military contractors to criminal or civil prosecution by or on behalf of jihadists in US or foreign courts.
* ACLU attorneys worked to defend Lynne Stewart, convicted in 2005 after being videotaped helping the “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman communicate from prison with his Egyptian terrorist comrades of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, responsible for the 1997 Luxor massacre of 58 Japanese and European tourists.
In each of these cases the ACLU is seeking to extend constitutional rights to hostile foreign nationals living outside the US and to protect armed activities conducted partly or wholly outside the US. As the KSM trials suggest, it also has a sympathetic ear in the Obama administration.
For instance, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder was a senior partner in the Covington & Burling law firm, which currently represents 16 Guantanamo detainees. Holder’s C&B law partner David Remes stripped to his underwear at a July 14, 2008 Yemeni news conference to demonstrate the strip-searches he claims are the most serious “torture” inflicted on detainees. Strip searches are a daily standard procedure in US and international prisons housing common criminals. But in the eyes of Holder’s former partner, this procedure is too debasing to be applied to jihadists. Remes soon left the firm to work on so-called “human rights” cases full time.
Another of Holder’s former C&B law partners, Marc Falkoff, edited “Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak.” Falkoff described the detainee-poets—among them Abdullah Salih al Ajmi—as “gentle, thoughtful young men” in a 2006 nationally broadcast college teach-in. After the “gentle, thoughtful” al Ajmi was released from Guantanamo, he travelled to Mosul, Iraq. On Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008, after making an al-Qaeda suicide video, al-Ajmi drove a 5,000 to 10,000 lb truck bomb into an Iraqi army barracks and detonated himself, killing 13 Iraqi soldiers and wounding 31 more.
To be sure, the administration is not entirely in agreement with the ACLU. As Attorney General, Holder now takes pains to portray KSM as a special case and emphasizes that other Guantanamo detainees will still face military tribunals, not civilian courts.
But the ACLU has other ideas. It wants to see all the Guantanamo detainees given civilian trials. The ACLU strategy has the potential to create a web of interlocking decisions and precedents that would serve to establish a basis for criminal prosecutions and more civil lawsuits by al Qaeda members against the US military personnel, contractors, Bush administration officials, and intelligence officers who have pursued them since 9/11.
If the ACLU is even partially successful, Americans and foreign allies who have risked their lives to pursue al Qaeda may find themselves in court answering to charges brought by the jihadists. With the civilian trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the ACLU is one step closer to that destructive goal.