Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Friends of Enemies Are Enemies

The doctrine of the Bush presidency is that the U.S. response to 9/11 must be warlike and not merely juridical. Senators Kerry and Edwards at times suggest that they reject this Bush Doctrine, but intentionally blur the question of whether Iraq helped plan the September 11 attacks with the question of whether Iraq was a supportive ally and friend of terrorist groups and a declared enemy of the United States.

While the controversy over Bush's Doctrine continues, the legal response to terror continues in the world's courts. Yesterday, the results on this front were mixed.

In Boston, a federal grand jury unsealed a seven-count indictment charging Saajid Badat with attempted murder and other charges related to an alleged conspiracy with Richard Reid, the al-Qaida member who attempted to use a shoe bomb to blow up an American Airlines flight in December, 2001.

Badat allegedly got his "custom-made" shoe bombs in al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan. The Boston Herald reports that Badat attended the North London mosque linked to Zacharias Moussaoui in Gloucester. Law enforcement officials are quoted as saying that small amounts of explosives were found in Badat's home and a stray hair of Badat's was found in Reid's shoe bomb.

Meanwhile, in Turin on Tuesday, a five-year sentence imposed on Ibraim Ellaban, an Egyptian national linked to al-Qaeda, has been set aside by an appeals court judge. Ellaban was arrested after Scotland Yard found references to him in the address book of a suspected terrorist. In Ellaban's trial, the prosecution read several letters, allegedly written by Osama Bin Laden, that called for members of his al-Qaida network to acquire weapons of mass destruction and urging them to "kill, fight, create traps and destroy" Americans. ("Bin Laden letters order US massacre," Philip Willan and Nick Hopkins, The Guardian, October 18, 2001).

In an April 16, 1998 letter, released during Ellaban's trial, Bin Laden is reported to say: "America carries out the worst international terrorism. Is it not terrible terrorism that America is carrying out in Iraq on children, women and the old, having condemned them to hunger?"

Interesting that Bin Laden should adopt the talking points of Saddam Hussein. Interesting too that the Ba'athist Iraqi regime would celebrate al-Qaeda's attacks on the twin towers in a mural on the Iraqi military headquarters of Nasiriyah.

Plainly, a purely legal response to terror will not protect the United States from the coalition of groups that are waging jihad against the West. Yet, the issue has not quite been joined in the election debates. The Kerry campaign professes support for a warlike response to terror while presuming a juridical test of legitimacy.

In the debate last night, Vice President Cheney opened with the case that Iraq was an ally of al-Qaeda:
It's important to look at all of our developments in Iraq within the broader context of the global war on terror. And, after 9/11, it became clear that we had to do several things to have a successful strategy to win the global war on terror, specifically that we had to go after the terrorists where ever we might find them, that we also had to go after state sponsors of terror, those who might provide sanctuary or safe harbor for terror.
...Concern about Iraq specifically focused on the fact that Saddam Hussein had been, for years, listed on the state sponsor of terror, that they he had established relationships with Abu Nidal, who operated out of Baghdad; he paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers; and he had an established relationship with Al Qaida. Specifically, look at George Tenet, the CIA director's testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations two years ago when he talked about a 10-year relationship.

Senator Edwards shifted the focus from that broader context to the narrower legalistic question of whether Saddam Hussein was involved in the operational planning of the September 11 attacks. His sound-bite line was: "There is no connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11th -- period."

If one agrees that the legitimate response to 9/11 is warlike, then it is important that one leave the question of prosecution of individual criminal acts to the courts and adopt a foreign policy that takes the broader view that those allied with the enemies of our country are our enemies also. A question for Senators Edwards and Kerry to ponder: after Pearl Harbor, would the United States have been justified in declaring war on Nazi Germany, Japan's ally, had Hitler not declared war on the U.S. first?

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|| headland, 1:50 PM

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