Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy tells Newsmax that the Obama administration’s decision to try bin Laden’s son-in-law in civilian court is one of its “sneakier” moves and will totally undermine the commission set up to try terrorist suspects.
McCarthy, a best-selling author, also warns that the real threat posed by North Korea is that its nuclear technology could ultimately end up in the hands of a terrorist organization.
And he says that $250 million in new American aid to Egypt is a “gift” to a “virulently anti-Western” regime.
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McCarthy served as Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and headed the successful 1995 prosecution of the blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, and other terrorists responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. His new book is “Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.”
Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Abu Ghaith has pleaded not guilty and will be tried in civilian court after being charged with conspiracy to kill Americans. Some lawmakers say he had knowledge of al-Qaida’s activities and should therefore be held at Guantanamo Bay.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Monday, McCarthy comments: “This is absolutely, depending on your point of view on the administration, one of the shrewder or sneakier things they’ve pulled off in five years.
“Congress has legislated a ban on bringing enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay into the United States for civilian trials because a large bipartisan majority of Congress created a military commission system for trying enemy combatants.
“This guy Abu Ghaith was not subject to that ban because he was never at Gitmo. He was caught by the Turks, and we were able to grab him in Jordan. The Obama administration then whisked him to New York City, which accomplishes the thing that they’ve been trying to accomplish all along, which is to undermine the commission system.
“So he’ll get the bells and whistles civilian trial in Manhattan. While that’s going on, the enemy combatants who are looking at a military commission in Guantanamo Bay will be able to claim that it’s unfair and unlawful to give them a lesser form of justice while someone who’s committed the same offense is being tried with all the rights of an American citizen in civilian court. So that totally undermines the military commission.
“The only intelligent thing to do in a war situation was to designate him as an enemy combatant and bring him to a place, whether it was Gitmo or someplace else, where we could interrogate him and try to exploit that intelligence.”
What the Obama administration is trying to do by bringing the terror suspect to New York “is demonstrate that the civilian justice system ‘works,’ and their definition of works is can we get people convicted,” McCarthy says.
“I’m sure they’ll be able to get him convicted, but the problem is the courts are going to say, if the civilian justice system works for this guy, then we don’t need a military system and they’re apt to rule it invalid.
“If they invalidate the military commission system, those people who were convicted then will have a claim that they were wrongfully convicted.”
North Korea has reportedly cancelled the armistice ending the Korean War and is once again threatening war against the United States and South Korea.
Asked if we are heading for a second Korean War, McCarthy responds: “I don’t know if we’re quite there yet but we’re in a very difficult and dangerous situation.
“Our policy through three different administrations has been to incentivize them to do the very thing that we don’t want them to do, that is develop nuclear weapons.
“You have to be very worried that they share the technology with the Iranians, and the Iranians in the past have shown a propensity to share their weapons of mass destruction with groups like Hezbollah, which trains groups like al-Qaida. So there’s a spinning effect of this that’s really troublesome.”
As for the administration’s attempts to downplay the North Korean threat, McCarthy observes: “Generally speaking, Washington downplays things when they don’t really have the stomach to do what has to be done.
“That’s been a feature of the Obama administration, which seems to think that the fact we are talking to people somehow is progress when in fact when you’re dealing with bad actors, generally that’s running the clock to allow them to do the things that they need to do to threaten us.
“So the administration is really looking at this in a wrong-headed way.”
Similarly, the administration’s attempt to deal with the Iranian threat through diplomacy “is a substitute for action taken in American interests,” McCarthy tells Newsmax.
“Why are we not arranging all of American foreign policy around the idea that Iran is our enemy and we want that regime gone? It doesn’t mean that you have to invade their country, although you wouldn’t take that off the table, but we should be using every lever of American policy, including diplomacy, to squeeze that regime.”
Asked if was wise for the United States to given Egypt $250 million in new aid, McCarthy responds: “No, of course not. It’s just the latest gift that we’ve given this Muslim Brotherhood regime, which is virulently anti-Western and anti-Semitic.
“We’ve given them, in the past, $1.3 billion in military assistance, which we continued after the Muslim Brotherhood took over. We’ve given them sophisticated weaponry, including Abrams tanks and aircraft. Now more money is pouring out.
“What we’re essentially doing is subsidizing a regime that sees its mission as destroying Western civilization. You can argue about how likely they are to succeed, but the fact that that is their goal is some indication about how much we ought to be helping this particular regime.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has finally conceded that it is not okay kill Americans with drones on American soil. Former U.S. Attorney McCarthy was asked if he believes it is legal to kill an American with a drone without a trial.
“The fact is, it is,” he says. “It is the law of war, and the Constitution accommodates the law of war — that if you join the enemy in wartime, you can be treated like the enemy. And that has included everything historically from capture and interrogation to trial by military commission and even execution.
“In 1942, for example, we arrested and tried, within seven weeks, and then executed a German-American citizen who was a Nazi saboteur. So the answer is, if the threat were dire enough, absolutely, you could kill American citizens in wartime, even in the United States, who join with the enemy.
“We had a civil war here from 1861 through 1865 where that was done with some regularity.
“I’m not recommending that. I’m just trying to be very realistic about the fact that the Framers in building a Constitution that was designed first and foremost to protect the United States from any conceivable threat gave the president awesome power.”
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