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.

Patrick Andrade/Reuters/File
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.

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.

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."

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and the Fort Hood shootings. Giuliani chided Obama for not deeming the Fort Hood shootings a terrorist act. Instead, Obama has tried to calm the nation and has implored Americans and Congress to wait until the conclusion of the investigation of the attack.

According to the FBI, the only suspect in the case, Hasan, corresponded more than 10 times during the past two years with a cleric in Yemen known for his anti-American rhetoric and his sympathy with Al Qaeda’s global goals. Mr. al-Awlaki was accused of being the “spiritual adviser” for two of the 9/11 hijackers while he lived near Washington in 2001. His website called Hasan a hero.

Giuliani said Sunday: The administration “has been very slow to react to the whole situation with Major Hasan, which was clearly a terrorist act in the name of Islamic terrorism.”

The war in Afghanistan. Giuliani joined the chorus of critics saying that Mr. Obama has taken too long to decide whether to send more troops.

Politically speaking, what Obama’s review has done is to put him irrevocably on the hook for whatever happens there. If he is seen as going in any way against the advice of the commanders in the field – and if the situation deteriorates further – Republicans can portray him as solely responsible.

In other words, a Slate column commented: “Obama may have inherited this war, but it's about to become his war and his alone.”

Closing the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. Two key members of the Obama administration – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and senior presidential adviser David Axelrod – reiterated Sunday that Obama intends to close Guantánamo Bay.

Reports suggest that the administration is looking at the maximum-security Thomson Correctional Facility in Illinois as one place potentially to house suspected terrorists currently at Guantánamo Bay.

“There may be some local officials who are going to support it, but I expect it will be a huge issue up in Illinois, probably in the US Senate race up there next year," Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell told "Fox News Sunday.

See also:

Who are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other accused terrorists?

What did the Army know about Fort Hood's Nidal Malik Hasan?

Afghanistan election over, will Obama make troop choice soon?


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