Yesterday in Manhattan federal court, with a minimum of fuss, Arid Uka was charged with first degree murder.
Uka, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, allegedly murdered two US servicemen and wounded two others in an assault on a bus full of USAF personnel at Frankfurt International Airport in March 2011.
Uka reportedly told German authorities that he was seeking revenge for the US invasion of Afghanistan and had been stirred to action after watching videos on YouTube. He claimed to be acting alone and said that he was not affiliated to any terrorist group.
Uka is currently detained in Germany and the United States is seeking his extradition to stand trial in New York. No one in New York has bleated about security fears or called for Uka to be sent to GTMO. The wheels of justice grind on slow and sure.
What a contrast with Kentucky where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been calling hysterically for two Iraqi refugees recently arrested in his state to be shipped to Guantanamo post haste without due process of law so that he can sleep safely in his bed at night once more.
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Last week Attorney-General Eric Holder wrote to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day 2009.
A plainly exasperated Holder sought to counter the hysterical reaction that greeted the decision to handle Abdulmutallab’s case within the criminal justice system with a few pertinent facts and a solid dose of common sense.
His letter is well worth reading for the insights it offers into the choices facing Americans as they seek to respond to future terrorist attacks.
The debate is not about whether or not the Obama administration has somehow applied a less robust approach to the underwear bomber than the Bush administration did to similar incidents.
It has not, despite Rudy Giuliani’s selective memory loss. Shoe bomber Richard Reid was treated precisely the same way in 2001. Both administrations allowed the law to take its course.
The more important debate is whether or not the law enforcement paradigm is the best method for handling such events. It is.
Much has been made in some quarters about the need to extract actionable intelligence without delay. This – much like that old chestnut, the ticking bomb scenario – is a meaningless rhetorical device routed in TV drama, not reality.
The idea that an apprehended suicide bomber like Abdulmutallab is likely to possess much actionable intelligence – that is, intelligence requiring an immediate operational response – is patently absurd.
Terrorist groups know that there is a fair chance any operation will fail and that their operative could be detained alive. Indeed, Al Qaeda has seen as many plots fail as it has succeed. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST