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Steve Lunetta: Eric Holder's bad decisions

Posted: November 20, 2009 5:05 p.m.
Updated: November 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Bad decisions. We all make them. Some have limited consequences while others are far-reaching.

Like the time I took my future wife to go see the Barbra Streisand movie "Yentel." We parked my red 1963 Volkswagen Beetle in Riverside's Tyler Mall parking lot and went in to see the show.

I was subjected to two hours of Streisand pretending to be a boy in love with another boy which was OK because he, I mean she, was not a boy which should make the other boy feel OK but still creepy because he is a boy not being aware that the other boy is not a boy. Shoot me in the head.

Then, to add insult to injury, we went outside and my beautiful '63 had been broken into and destroyed. I don't know which I was more upset about - the attack on my car or the attack on my psyche by Babs.

Bad decision. But my decision seems relatively brilliant in comparison to Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts in a New York civilian court.

This decision is so bad on so many different levels. It is hard to fathom why such a smart fellow like Holder would do such a thing unless he was being influenced by a higher power. A power that wishes to ingratiate himself to the world without regard for American sensibilities or interests.

Obama wants to show the world that our system works and that the terrorists will be "brought to justice." This will prove how fair-minded and honest we are. However, the radical Islamic world does not believe the terrorists will get a fair trial, no matter how and where they are tried.

So, why bother going to the trouble and expense of bringing the terrorists to New York?

And a massive expense it will be. The security required will be massive and still may not guarantee everyone's safety. The disruption that the trial will cause, only a few blocks from ground zero, will be a continuation of the chaos the terrorists intended to create in the first place, causing more economic distress and strain on the city of New York.

Does Holder think a fair and impartial jury could be obtained in New York? Is he serious? Most New Yorkers were touched in some way by the horror of 9/11. A smart defense attorney will request a change of venue almost immediately. Any fair judge will be hard-pressed to deny such a motion.

Without a doubt, the biggest problem with Holder's plan is the civil venue itself. In our system, an accused party is entitled to an attorney and to be informed of their rights. Remember that pesky Miranda thing? Twenty bucks says Khalid was never Mirandized by the Marines who grabbed him.

Will a sharp attorney use this as a grounds for dismissal? They'd be stupid if they didn't try. And if the court is fair, they will let these guys go. And if they don't, the world will perceive us as hypocrites by not obeying our own rules. Holder is defeating his own purpose.

During the Sept. 18 hearing before the United States Senate, Holder was questioned by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who asked Holder how many times an enemy combatant was captured by our military and then tried in a civilian court. Holder could not answer.

Graham could. The answer was "zero."

Graham went on to say: "We're making bad history here. The big problem I have is that you're criminalizing the war. ... I think you've made a fundamental mistake here."

Why is this so important? By keeping the terrorists as enemy combatants, we are free to interrogate and obtain information to help us fight this war. And we are at war. Holder himself said so by declaring: "I know we are at war."

The trials will be public so all can see how our system works. To do anything less would be deemed as hypocritical once again.
But suppose the terrorists divulge information on the stand that could endanger covert operations or place U.S. service personnel at risk? Are we ready to lose people for the sake of a public relations show?

What a slap in the face to the people of New York. They will have old wounds opened anew.

Bad decision, Mr. Holder. Very bad decision.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal.


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