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Giuliani: New York trials show Obama is soft on terrorism

Rudy Giuliani said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed does not deserve the legal rights that a New York trial in a civilian court offers. Obama 'is getting away from the fact that we’re at war,' he said.

By Staff writer / November 15, 2009

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani speaking at the United Nations on September 24, 2009. On Sunday, Giuliani said President Obama is soft on terrorism.

Patrick Andrade/Reuters/File

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Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani took his tough-on-crime platform a step further Sunday, asserting that the Obama administration has become soft on terrorism.

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On several Sunday talk shows, he said Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a civilian court in New York was essentially a concession to a terrorist.

“In this particular case, we’re reaching out to give terrorists a benefit that’s unnecessary,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, when he was first arrested, asked to be brought to New York. I didn’t think we were in the business of granting the requests of terrorists.”

Attacking Democrats for not being hawkish enough on security matters has long been a chestnut of Republican campaign rhetoric. But President Obama’s painstaking approach to policy has opened him to criticism in recent weeks from people who want a harder line against terrorists from Afghanistan to New York to Cuba.

How several issues now before the Obama administration turn out during the next year will likely determine whether security is a soft spot that Republicans feel they can attack in 2010 elections.

Speaking broadly, Mr. Giuliani told “This Week”: “It seems to me that the Obama administration is getting away from the fact that we’re at war with these terrorists. They no longer use the term, ‘War on Terror.’”

More specifically, Giuliani laid out the key security issues currently facing Obama:

The trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. To supporters of Mr. Holder's decision, it marks America’s confidence in its legal system. To critics like Giuliani, it confers too many legal rights on the people perhaps least deserving of them – while also adding millions to New York’s security costs.

"This seems to be an overconcern with the rights of terrorists and a lack of concern for the rights of the public," Giuliani said on "Fox News Sunday." He suggests trying suspected terrorists in an military tribunal.

Others worry that a civilian trial could give terrorists a forum to preach their hateful doctrines against the US – a potential recruiting tool overseas.

"They are going to do everything they can to disrupt it and make it a circus and allow them to use it as a platform to push their ideology," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, (R) of Michigan on CBS' "Face the Nation."