A civilian court’s acquittal of a suspected al-Qaida terrorist of most charges in deadly attacks on U.S. embassies is another indicator that President Barack Obama has lost his magic touch, says international journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave.
The president is “obviously in serious trouble,” de Borchgrave tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview. “The elections have put him at a disadvantage on all fronts. He’s no longer the magician who gave the Berlin talk when he was running for president and the Cairo talk in June of last year.”
The case of Ahmed Ghailani, a Guantanamo detainee who was found not guilty of all but one charge against him Wednesday, also “obviously indicates justice can’t be carried out in civilian courts and will have to be done in military court,” says de Borchgrave, a Newsmax correspondent. The Obama administration has pressed for civilian trials for terrorists, including 9/11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
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A federal jury in New York convicted Ghailani of one count of conspiracy and acquitted him of all other counts, including murder and murder conspiracy, in the 1998 African embassy bombings. The anonymous federal jury deliberated over seven days, with a juror writing a note to the judge saying she felt threatened by other jurors.
“If someone who’s clearly guilty is rendered innocent, imagine where that leaves us,” de Borchgrave says. “As people involved with al-Qaida begin to be released in civilian court, we’re just sending them right back to do the same work against us.”
President Obama’s recent win-loss record works against him, says de Borchgrave, who says, “He was winning one ball game after another, now he’s losing one ball game after another.”
The next pitch is in the form of the START treaty with Russia. It’s essential for the Senate to approve the treaty to ensure Russian cooperation with the U.S. policy toward Iran, says de Borchgrave, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has indicated opposition to passing the treaty during the lame-duck session of Congress, a position de Borchgrave criticized as “very dangerous.”
“All sorts of other things are contingent on a successful restart of relations with Russia, which includes nuclear weapons,” de Borchgrave says. “To understand what’s at stake, one has to go to Iran and the network of anti-missile missiles we want to install around Iran.”
Russia’s cooperation on that plan is important. “We and Russia seem to be on the same wave length on Iran and their secret nuclear program,” he says. “The Russians have agreed not to sell them anti-aircraft missiles. A lot is at stake beside a nuclear arms agreement.”
The treaty would take years to implement. “There’s absolutely no harm in ratifying that to obtain Russian assistance in the much more important problem now of Iran,” de Borchgrave says.
The military option is still very much on the table for the United States against Iran, he says. “What everyone fears most is that a military strike, whether done by Israel or the U.S., will be answered by Iran with formidable asymmetrical retaliatory capability that will go up and down the entire Persian Gulf.”
The war in Afghanistan doesn’t look good, he says. “Everyone is looking for a way out, but no one wants to turn the country over to the Taliban.”
The Obama administration reportedly plans to end U.S. military involvement in the country by 2014 and hand security over to the Afghans. “That’s totally ludicrous,” de Borchgrave says.
“There’s no way it could work. But everyone wants out. A successful effort to create effective Afghan forces must overcome a legacy of more than eight years of critical failures of force development and training.”
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