Guy Farmer: How not to deal with terrorists |

Guy Farmer: How not to deal with terrorists

Guy W. Farmer
For the Nevada Appeal

I almost felt sorry for Vice President Joe Biden last Sunday as he tried to convince skeptical “Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory that the Obama administration is tough on international terrorism and terrorists. It was apparent that Gregory wasn’t buying what Biden was selling, and I don’t blame him.

An administration that calls the War on Terror “overseas contingency operations” can’t be entirely serious about cracking down on terrorism and terrorists. Continued waffling on this life-and-death issue by President Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric Holder reinforces a persistent public perception that Democrats are soft on defense and national security – a perception that has plagued them for decades and cost them dearly at the polls.

Although Obama did the right thing by approving a troop surge to combat al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, he and his attorney general undercut that strong message by deciding to try top-level terrorists – also known as enemy combatants – in civilian courts rather than in military tribunals, where they belong. The idea of reading terrorists their “constitutional” rights is absurd, and former law professor Obama should know better.

While American citizens are entitled to all of the protections guaranteed by our Constitution, enemy combatants should be granted the specific rights enumerated in the Geneva Conventions, and nothing more.

The most egregious example of the administration’s confusion is the case of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who vowed to turn his New York federal court trial into a recruiting tool for international terrorism. Obama and Holder backed down, however, after vigorous protests from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the state’s congressional delegation.

Now no one knows where Mohammed’s trial will be held and the case is in limbo. The Obama administration also botched the interrogation of alleged Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdul-mutallab, who is being treated as a common criminal. Abdul-mutallab quit cooperating with FBI interrogators when Holder told them to read him his Miranda rights.

Writing in the Washington Post, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said that Holder’s decision “allowed an enemy combatant the protections of our Constitution before we had adequately interrogated him.” Recently retired FBI Asst. Director Bob Gast, a Reno resident, agreed with Hayden, noting that foreign fighters “will now have the advantage over their interrogators.” In other words, our rules of interrogation will become part and parcel of terrorist training manuals. Nice.

It’s time for the Obama administration to get serious about the War on Terror. Cold-blooded killers who videotape the decapitations of innocent civilians deserve swift and sure punishment for their despicable acts of violence against humanity.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, spent nearly 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service.