National Security Network

As Experts and Leaders Respond, Conservatives Promote Hysteria

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Report 7 May 2010

Terrorism & National Security Terrorism & National Security al qaeda citizenship Constitution guns miranda rights


In the wake of the failed Times Square bombing, there was a marked difference between how national security leaders and experts, as opposed to conservatives, reacted to the event.  On the one hand, the leaders and experts responded with sober, practical analyses and provided advice on solutions going-forward.  On the other hand, conservatives resorted to overreaction, theatrics and hysteria, attempting to score cheap political points out of national security.  From radical proposals such as stripping Americans of their citizenship rights, to the hypocritical rejection of realistic measures to prevent terrorists from obtaining guns, conservatives have proven this week that they are more interested in politics and attacking the Administration than they are about protecting the country.  While we continue to take the fight to the terrorists, that we also continue to protect what's most important - an America that lives up to its values.

Demonstrating Strength Against Terrorism

Terrorism expert Roger Cressey argued on MSNBC that: "If this is the best an organized terrorist group can do now, we're doing pretty well... For the past several years both in the Bush administration and now in the Obama administration, we have been beating the snot out of Al Qaeda's infrastructure inside Pakistan; through the predator drones, through the Pakistani military on the ground.  That has had a serious impact on their capability to project threats into the homeland, that's why Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula used Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab to try and take down a plane." [Roger Cressey via MSNBC, 5/5/10]

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH): The "Obama Administration has spoonfed the American people with bland reassurances, saying this was a ‘one-off' and a ‘lone wolf.'  This is the rhetoric of an Administration that continues to operate without a real, comprehensive plan to confront and defeat the terrorist threat.  Democrats cannot have it both ways by trying to fight a ‘war on terror' while refusing to acknowledge its existence... Yes, we have been lucky, but luck is not an effective strategy for fighting terrorism." [John Boehner, 5/6/10]

Living by America's Values

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):  "This is a U.S. citizen, arrested on U.S. soil and subject to the constitutional protections and constraints of every U.S. citizen...Even Glenn Beck says he's a U.S. citizen and deserving of constitutional rights."  "Nothing says that we can't convict and give appropriate punishment to people just because we give them Miranda rights under the Constitution...As I understand it, he was availed of the same rights that any other citizen would be given." [Rep. Steny Hoyer, via Politics Daily, 5/4/10]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):  "I am all into national security," he said. "I want them to stop reading these guys Miranda rights." Politico reports that he "...wants to allow the government to interrogate U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism without warning them of their right to remain silent-a proposal that would dramatically rewrite the rules regarding suspects captured inside the United States.  ‘Miranda warnings are counterproductive in my view,' Graham said at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday," reports Politico. [Huffington Post, 5/5/10. Politico, 5/5/10]

Preventing terrorists from obtaining Guns

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) testified this week before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on steps that can be taken to close the ‘terror gap' and prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons: "'Shouldn't FBI agents have the authority to block sales of guns and explosives to those on the terror watchlists -- and deemed too dangerous to fly? I actually believe that they should,'" Bloomberg told senators. Federal law currently only allows the government to block guns sales for a very limited number of reasons, and being on that list is not one of them. ‘This common-sense legislation is not anti-gun -- it's anti-terrorist,' chimed in Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the sponsor of a bill that would close what Bloomberg has called a ‘terror gap.'" [Huffington Post, 5/5/10]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Despite his support for stripping Americans citizens of their constitutional rights regarding interrogation, Graham was appalled at the proposal to prevent suspected terrorists of obtaining weapons.  Dan Froomkin writes that "Graham described the bill as an instrument of those who would ban guns altogether. ‘We're talking about a constitutional right here,' he said, explaining that he could not support a bill that would force ‘innocent Americans' to ‘pay the cost of going to court to get their gun rights back.'" Graham apparently missed the irony, as he supports stripping Americans of their constitutionally-guaranteed legal rights while protecting a terrorists' right to bear arms. [Huffington Post, 5/5/10]

Protecting Americans and the Constitution

Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) "introduced a proposal to revoke the citizenship of Americans who [give] ‘material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization' or ‘or actively engaging in hostilities against the United States or its allies' based on a finding made by the Secretary of State. The proposal would amend an existing statute that allows the State Department to revoke the citizenship of Americans who join a foreign military at war with the United States. Suspected terrorists would be able to challenge the process in court. Civil libertarians have been critical of the proposal, dubbed the Terrorist Expatriation Act or "TEA", because as proposed, it wouldn't even require a conviction, merely a decision of the Secretary of State," writes Adam Serwer. [Adam Serwer, 5/6/10]

Legal experts point out that the proposal will likely not pass constitutional muster, because the Supreme Court has previously held that citizenship is a constitutional right that can only be waived voluntarily.  David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University Law School stated that "The Supreme Court ruled that citizenship is a Constitutional right that can't be taken away against an individuals will, no matter how heinously he acts, no matter what he does...You could bomb America without wanting to give up your American citizenship, unless they can prove that you did it with the intent of giving away your American citizenship... If you read the [existing] law carefully, it says they can take your citizenship away only if you do so voluntarily, and with the intent of revoking your citizenship." [American Prospect, 5/6/10]

What We're Reading

Britain's opposition Conservatives won the most seats in Parliament and secured the tentative backing of the third largest party, the Liberal Democrats, but failed to gain an outright majority in the 650-seat House of Commons, creating the first "hung parliament" since 1974.

Germany's Parliament gave the go-ahead to the country's contribution of up to €22.4 billion ($28.3 billion) in emergency loans to Greece.

A bad day in the financial markets was made worse by an apparent trading glitch, leaving traders and investors nervous and scratching their heads over how a mistake could send the Dow Jones Industrial Average into a 1,000-point tailspin, its biggest intraday point drop ever.

Germany and other West European nations at the U.N. nonproliferation conference are calling for elimination of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe - "leftovers from the Cold War" - as a way to advance global arms control.

The Pakistani Taliban, which American investigators suspect were behind the attempt to bomb Times Square, have in recent years combined forces with Al Qaeda and other groups, threatening to extend their reach and ambitions.

NATO has taken one of the biggest gambles of its mission in Afghanistan by reluctantly deciding to collaborate with Ahmad Wali Karzai - despite allegations that the half-brother of the President is involved in the drugs trade.

Anti-government protesters in Thailand refused to leave the streets of Bangkok, but hinted they may be able to strike a deal in coming days to end a deadly crisis that has stifled the economy.

The crew of a Russian destroyer engaged in a "robust" firefight with pirates and freed 23 merchant seamen who had been taken hostage on a Russian oil tanker a day earlier.

The Burmese pro-democracy party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi chose to disband rather than recognize a government edict formally nullifying the party's victory in 1990 elections.

Politically astute outsider Antanas Mockus is gaining ground in his campaign for president of Colombia.

Commentary of the Day

Eugene Robinson argues that the "system worked" in catching and bringing the failed Times Square bomber to justice.

Mosharraf Zaidi writes that Pakistan is fighting terror, but U.S. drone strikes and Pakistani army bombing are creating more terrorists and resentment than they're killing.

Bruce Usher says clean energy technology represents a critical source of national wealth and job creation, but the U.S. is quickly losing the clean power race to China.


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