The liberal press and its political allies are upset with Karl Rove. The president’s key adviser said recently that liberals responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11 with calls for two things: Better understanding of why these enemies attacked us, and calling the police with indictments in hand to apprehend the terrorists and their terror masters.
Was Mr. Rove out of line? Remarkably, he probably understated the case. On Nov. 10, 1998, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked what we should do about the declaration of war by Osama bin Laden against the United States. A properly executed indictment, she said. About as useful as indicting Emperor Hirohito the day after Pearl Harbor.
Fast forward to January 2004, when current Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean was asked how we should deal with bin Laden. Mr. Dean explained we shouldn’t prejudge the issue until a jury had rendered a verdict at the end of a criminal trial. As Andrew McCarthy, who led the prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman for the plot to blow up New York landmarks, has said, rather than respond with vigorous force to protect the homeland, the liberal response was to “swaddle terrorists in the rights of American criminal defendants.” (Is anyone now surprised that the same liberals want to extend these rights to the battlefield-caught prisoners at Gitmo?)
At the same time, and not to be outdone, former President Jimmy Carter called upon the world community to “not make moral judgments” about terrorists and to identify with the “values of moral neutrality and pacifism.” And what should be the proper response to the attacks of terrorists against America and her allies? “Go the negotiating table, not the battlefield.”
In 1991, when contemplating whether to support the use of U.S. and allied military power to force Saddam out of Kuwait, the current minority leader in the House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, argued, “we should take very seriously the environmental consequences of our actions.” Ironically, 13 years later, Sen. John Kerry would argue European opposition to the liberation of Iraq was because Mr. Bush “walked away” from the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty. However, the 98-0 vote in the Senate urging the president not to submit the treaty happened in 1998 during the Clinton administration.
And what about Michael Moore, given a prominent seat at the 2004 Democratic Convention right next to Mr. Carter? On the very day of the September 11 attacks, he complained the terrorists didn’t understand us, that the right people were not killed, arguing, “If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who did not vote for him.”
As for the American Civil Liberties Union and allies such as Sen. Edward Kennedy, the very judicial systems they urge us to use to combat terrorist acts are weakened or undermined by their simultaneous attempts to remove funding from the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. This Justice Department program has nabbed 330 known foreign criminals, 15 illegal alien felons and three known terrorists.
George Soros, too, supports dealing with terrorist “crime” through “police work, not military action,” a view echoed by Yale’s William Sloan Coffin and law professor Harold Hongju Koh, both of whom argued, respectively, “the U.S. Government should have vowed to see justice done, but by the force of law only, never by the law of force,” and “Bush could have supported the International Criminal Court as a way of bringing bin Laden and Hussein … to justice.”
Presidential candidate Wesley Clark also called for the use of the courts arguing in December 2003 that bin Laden should be tried in The Hague, under international law with a group of international justices. The French government, liberal as always, jumped into the fray in Sept. 2004 during the election campaign calling for greater “understanding” of the terrorists, and like Mr. Carter, calling for an international conference including Iraqi terrorists to discuss “U.S. troop withdrawals.”
A month later, on Oct. 30, the Lowell Sun of Massachusetts put it well when it editorialized that Mr. Kerry’s solution to terrorism was to go to the U.N. and “build a consensus” with the very “Iraqi oil for food scam artists” who have conspired to keep terror master Hussein in power.
And we all remember the “global test” put forward by Mr. Kerry as the litmus for whether the U.S. can act in the world. This is not a question of “making your best case.” It’s a question of getting approval. In short, “Mommy may I?” This reflects deal-making and consensus. But as National Review put it, the “Terror War is not a transportation bill.”
Peter Huessy is president of GeoStrategic Analysis.