January 11, 2010

From CNN's State of the Union, Liz Cheney says our "Federal courts are not an effective tool for fighting terror" despite as Donna Brazile asserts, her daddy's administration didn't seem to have any problem using them to prosecute terrorists. You know, it's bad enough that the cable news shows continually trot this torture monger out to defend her father's dirty work as someone we should consider credible, but you'd think John King would try to get some control over her instead of looking like he's just enjoying the show with her either talking over or refusing to respond to Donna Brazile.

Our sorry excuse for "news" really has sunk into the abyss when they day in and day out let these pundits go on the air and treat torture as something our government should be doing and that is legal. It's truly disgusting. And Liz, the "recruiting tool" for terrorism is not our court system. It's our foreign policy that you and your father condone that is making us enemies.

KING: Do Republicans have the upper hand on the political argument? We'll talk about the policy in a minute.

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, John, I take the position that when it comes to national security, this should be a bipartisan concern. I thought the president was absolutely right in taking responsibility but I also thought that the president called on the country to put citizenship ahead of bipartisanship was also the right thing to say.

There's no evidence that President Obama has put fighting terrorism on the back burner. There's no evidence his administration has downplayed the threat or downplaying, you know, whatever information that they have received regarding al Qaeda.

When the president gave what I thought to be strong remarks on Afghanistan in December, he mentioned Yemen. He mentioned the fact that we would have to fight al Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia and other places. So there's no information whatsoever that would lead anyone to believe that this president doesn't care about our security and he's not fighting with every tool that was left by the Bush-Cheney administration.

And I have to say this, because I think the tools that were left, we often give sharp notice to those tools. They were good tools. But we now understand that we know, based on what happened with the underwear bomber, that we have to strengthen those tools.

We can't just gather information, collect information, Liz. But we also have to share it and analyze it so that we can respond to these threats in a timely manner.

KING: Well, as the administration responds, and every administration adjusts to every new challenge and crisis, what should it do going forward in terms of one of the controversies -- and this started late in the Bush administration, because of political pressure and because of efforts to close down Guantanamo Bay or at least reduce the prison population, some of those terrorists, those who were deemed to be least risk -- I won't call them more safe, I will call them least risky, were, some of them, returned to their countries.

And Dianne Feinstein, who is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said this morning that one of the questions she has is, should we continue to release prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, especially if their destination would be a country with a strong or growing al Qaeda presence like Yemen?


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: If you look at Yemen, and we're taking a good look at Yemen, what you see is I think at least 24 or 28 are confirmed returns to the battlefield in Yemen. And there are a number of suspected. If you combine the suspected and the confirmed, the number I have is 74 detainees have gone back into the fight. And I think that's bad, and here is the reason. They come out of Gitmo and they are heroes in this world. This world is the only world that's going to really be accepting of them. Therefore, the tendency is to go back, and I think the Gitmo experience is not one that leads itself to rehabilitation, candidly.


KING: Let me go to the Democrat first on this one. Donna, is it time, at least in the short term, to call a time-out, no more releases from Gitmo, no plans to close Gitmo, transfer some of them to the United States or send the others elsewhere in the world until everybody can take a deep breath and maybe go back and double-, triple-check the intelligence and think about this again?

BRAZILE: Well, let me start with the fact that President Obama has been very reluctant to send many of these so-called terror suspects back to Yemen, in large part because of the instability of their government and the threat of al Qaeda.

President Bush transferred 520 people from Gitmo, 17 to Yemen. President Obama has transferred only 40, seven to Yemen. It's clear to me that with the 200 remaining terrorist suspects at Gitmo Bay that most of them are from Yemeni.

So this is something that the president needs to understand. And I have to say something about our federal system, because this is another so-called, you know, misleading information. Our federal prisons are really tight. I mean, we have over 300 terrorists in federal prisons today, 216 international and 139 domestic. Not one of them have been released.

So I think that we have a strong system in place, but I don't think we should be transferring them back to any country any time soon if al Qaeda is going to use them to further recruit more people.

CHENEY: Look, I think that the whole notion that the president has said we need to focus on closing Guantanamo is one of the things that I would point to when Donna says there's no evidence that he's not committed to fighting this war as a war.

Telling your intelligence services; telling your counterterrorism services, "Your priority is closing Guantanamo," which means people are spending time and man hours on getting Guantanamo closed, time and man hours they could better be spending doing other things that will actually keep us safe.

Telling the world that we're now going to try terrorists in our civilian court system -- if you want to talk about a recruiting tool, Donna, the recruiting tool is saying to terrorists around the world, you attack America and the Americans catch you, the worst that you can imagine is that they're going to give you a lawyer; they're going to give you a trial in civilian court where you can preach jihad; they're going to tell you you don't have to talk, and you might get a judge who throws out the government's evidence, as we saw, in fact, just this week.

BRAZILE: Well, Liz, with all due respect...


BRAZILE: ... President Bush used those same...


BRAZILE: ... those same federal courts to try Moussaoui, the shoe bomber, and several other terrorist suspects. So what is wrong with our federal courts?

CHENEY: Well, what's wrong with them is that they are an effective...

BRAZILE: Two hundred people have been used -- 200 people have gone through our federal courts, only three our military courts.

CHENEY: Federal courts are not an effective tool for fighting terror. And if you look at what's happened, for example, in 1993...

BRAZILE: Is that a change of position from the Bush administration that tried over 200 people in our federal courts?

CHENEY: The Bush administration was very committed to the military commissions. And, in fact, they had to adjust the military commissions because the Supreme Court told them that they needed to make adjustments, which they did.

Now, if you look at what's happened, you now, in 1993 we tried the World Trade Center bombers in federal court. Now, after 1993, we were attacked repeatedly. We were attacked at our embassies in East Africa. The USS Cole was bombed. We were attacked on September 11th.

The criminal justice system...


BRAZILE: And there's been other attempts after September 11th, also, to attack us.


CHENEY: ...not established in a way that can help to defeat terror.

And when you say to a terrorist, you get all of the rights of an American citizen and you're going to be given a trial in civilian court -- and you've now got a situation, with the Christmas bomber, where, instead of questioning him, we are now in a position, as a government, where he's got a lawyer and we're in a plea bargain with him...

BRAZILE: No, we're not. The FBI has gotten actionable intelligence.

CHENEY: So we are now forced to give a terrorist something in exchange for information.


BRAZILE: Just look at the facts.

CHENEY: Those are the facts, Donna.



CHENEY: This guy -- you think he doesn't have a lawyer? He's got a lawyer and he was read his Miranda rights. Do you think that was the right approach?

BRAZILE: Well, what do you want to do, put him in -- put him on a waterboard and -- and try to...


CHENEY: ... to get information from him so that we don't get attacked again, Donna.

BRAZILE: I'm sure that the...

CHENEY: And once you give somebody a lawyer and the lawyer tell them to be quiet...

BRAZILE: I have no problem with our American judicial system, Liz.

CHENEY: In the American judicial system, time and time again, we've seen...

BRAZILE: Liz -- Liz...

CHENEY: Let's just talk about what happened.

BRAZILE: You know, let's talk about the facts. Let's talk about the fact that the Bush administration has tried...


BRAZILE: ... over 200 people in our federal courts. It was good enough for the Bush-Cheney administration. We should continue to strengthen our apparatus to try and convict these people and sentence them using our court system.

CHENEY: That will not keep America safe, Donna, and I don't believe...

BRAZILE: I -- I believe it will keep America safe.

CHENEY: Maybe you believe that terrorists have the right to...


BRAZILE: I believe it will keep us safe.


KING: Ladies, I'm going to call a quick time-out on this end of the table.

Can you help us out?

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