The Right's textbook "surrender to terrorists"

"We're too scared to have real trials in our country" is a level of cowardice unmatched in the world.


Glenn Greenwald
November 14, 2009 3:15PM (UTC)

(updated below - Update II)

Understanding and Combatting Terrorism, USMC Major S.M. Grass, 1989:

Terrorism is a psychological weapon and is directed to create a general climate of fear. As one definition cogently notes, "terror is a natural phenomenon, terrorism is the conscious exploitation of it."  Terrorism utilizes violence to coerce governments and their people by inducing fear.

William Josiger, Fear Factor: The Impact of Terrorism on Public Opinion in the United States and Great Britain, 2006:

At its heart terrorism is about fear. While terrorist attacks destroy, maim and kill, the intended audience for these attacks is almost always the whole body politic and the terrorist's goal is to strike fear into their hearts.

GOP House Leader John Boehner, condemning Obama's decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York for trial, yesterday:

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The Obama Administration’s irresponsible decision to prosecute the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in New York City puts the interests of liberal special interest groups before the safety and security of the American people.

This is literally true:  the Right's reaction to yesterday's announcement -- we're too afraid to allow trials and due process in our country -- is the textbook definition of "surrendering to terrorists."  It's the same fear they've been spewing for years.  As always, the Right's tough-guy leaders wallow in a combination of pitiful fear and cynical manipulation of the fear of their followers.  Indeed, it's hard to find any group of people on the globe who exude this sort of weakness and fear more than the American Right.

People in capitals all over the world have hosted trials of high-level terrorist suspects using their normal justice system.  They didn't allow fear to drive them to build island-prisons or create special commissions to depart from their rules of justice.  Spain held an open trial in Madrid for the individuals accused of that country's 2004 train bombings.  The British put those accused of perpetrating the London subway bombings on trial right in their normal courthouse in London.  Indonesia gave public trials using standard court procedures to the individuals who bombed a nightclub in Bali.  India used a Mumbai courtroom to try the sole surviving terrorist who participated in the 2008 massacre of hundreds of residents.  In Argentina, the Israelis captured Adolf Eichmann, one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals, and brought him to Jerusalem to stand trial for his crimes.

It's only America's Right that is too scared of the Terrorists -- or which exploits the fears of their followers -- to insist that no regular trials can be held and that "the safety and security of the American people" mean that we cannot even have them in our country to give them trials.  As usual, it's the weakest and most frightened among us who rely on the most flamboyant, theatrical displays of "strength" and "courage" to hide what they really are.   Then again, this is the same political movement whose "leaders" -- people like John Cornyn and Pat Roberts -- cowardly insisted that we must ignore the Constitution in order to stay alive:  the exact antithesis of the core value on which the nation was founded.  Given that, it's hardly surprising that they exude a level of fear of Terrorists that is unmatched virtually anywhere in the world.  It is, however, noteworthy that the position they advocate -- it's too scary to have normal trials in our country of Terrorists -- is as pure a surrender to the Terrorists as it gets.

 

UPDATE:  A small town in Illinois that houses an under-used prison is mentioned as a possibility for holding Guantanamo inmates convicted of crimes, and its residents hope they are chosen.  The town was first considered when its Mayor raised the possibility as a means of bringing more jobs.  The Right could learn a lot about basic "rationality" and courage by reading the reactions of the residents there.

On a different note:  I'm unclear why so many commenters are arguing that some of the Right's leaders are merely exploiting fear rather than genuinely fearful themselves, as though that contradicts what I wrote.  I made that exact point explicitly:  "the Right's tough-guy leaders wallow in a combination of pitiful fear and cynical manipulation of the fear of their followers" and "It's only America's Right that is too scared of the Terrorists -- or which exploits the fears of their followers --."  In any event, I don't think it's worthwhile to try to speculate about the true motives of specific right-wing politicians.  Some are scared themselves; some are both scared and eager to exploit fear to justify tyrannical policies; and some are being largely exploitative.  Whatever the true motives of each, fear is a driving fuel of their political movement.

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UPDATE II:  Several family members of 9/11 victims -- including the parents of a police officer and firefighter who died at the World Trade Center -- explain why they believe that real trials are imperative for those accused of perpetuating the attacks.


Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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Washington, D.c.



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