Friday, January 10, 2020

Enemy Combatant Terror Commanders Are Fair Game

Enemy Combatant Terror Commanders Are Fair Game
Excerpt: The suggestion, mainly by partisan Democrats, is that it was illegitimate for the president to use lethal force without congressional authorization absent proof that Soleimani was on the cusp of killing Americans — or, better, killing even more Americans. The debate puts me in mind of the early-to-mid 1990s, when our counterterrorism laws were dangerously flawed. Back then, sensible Democrats — as most of them were — knew that these defects had to be addressed. Rather than sound like apologists for anti-American jihadists, they took admirably expeditious action. The problem emerged in the investigation of the proto-Qaeda terror network guided by the so-called Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman. I was then a federal prosecutor and took over that investigation in Spring 1993. At the time, having just bombed the World Trade Center, the jihadists were actively plotting something even more monstrous: simultaneous attacks on the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the United Nations complex on Manhattan’s east side. The jihadists were also scouting additional landmarks in the city, including U.S. military facilities and the FBI’s downtown headquarters. We knew about the plot — and were in a position to thwart it — because we had a confidential informant. [McCarthy lays out the history and practice of our anti-terrorism efforts over the past 30 years very neatly. Some, perhaps most, of the problems Democrats are complaining about today is rooted in how terrorism has to be viewed. Is it a law-enforcement problem or a military problem? The issue was “litigated” in Congress during the Clinton years and again in the early G. W. Bush years. It was decided by a bipartisan Congress that it was primarily a military problem that needed a military response or that at least a military response could be a legitimate answer. Somehow, during the Obama years, that consensus was lost by many Democrats. Our laws haven’t changed, but the lawmakers have. Somehow, we need to fix that. Ron P.]

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