Tuesday, September 18, 2007

reality bites back

In choosing a retired federal judge to replace disgraced former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, George W. Bush got himself more than a good Jewish lawyer and the answer to a trivia question (What do Roy Cohen, Claus von Bulow, and Rudy Giuliani have in common?), he got himself a conundrum.

You see, Michael Mukasey was the presiding judge in the trial of Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheikh,” when he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in a plot to blow up New York City landmarks. President Bush himself made a big deal of Judge Mukasey’s involvement in that case, but what Bush can’t seem to reconcile, no less grasp, is that America successfully stopped a terrorist plot and locked away its planners by treating the plot as a crime and using the tools afforded under the existing criminal justice system to punish the would-be terrorists.

Back then, there was no USA Patriot Act, there was no Guantanamo, there were no military commissions/star chambers, there was no extraordinary rendition, there was no torture, and, last but not least, there was no “Global War on Terror.” But, the biggest difference, of course, is that the Blind Sheikh rots in a US prison, an historical footnote, at best, while Osama bin Laden is a free man, getting a dye-job somewhere in the northwest of Pakistan, an en ever-greater legend to an ever-growing number of radicalized Muslims.

If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, the elevation of Judge Mukasey is a plum example of just how much the Bush/Cheney approach to terrorism bites.

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