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McConnell: We'll Fight to Deny Funds for KSM Trial in U.S. Civilian Court

The minority leader blasts the president's law-enforcement approach to terrorism.

5:20 PM, Feb 3, 2010 • By EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH
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Earlier today at the Heritage Foundation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a speech on the many flawed policies of the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism, paramount among them, “that terrorism should be treated as a law-enforcement matter.”

McConnell then pointed out that the administration’s failure with respect to the Christmas Day bomber—from not acting on intelligence it received from the boy’s father to mirandizing him immediately after he attempted to blow up an airliner over U.S. soil—should not have shocked anyone. This is, McConnell concluded, merely the logical conclusion, the “practical consequences,” of a pre-9/11 mentality that considers terrorism a crime, not an act of war.

McConnell describes Obama’s policies in the war on terror as “ready, fire, aim,” which often puts "symbolism above security." As proof, he cites Obama’s decision, made a mere three days into his presidency, to shutter Guantanamo (the result, of course, is that one year later, it’s still open). He cites Obama’s decision to end the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program, “without even getting a final sign-off from the CIA” and repeats his new favorite line: "Larry King would spend more time with his guests than that."

McConnell mentioned two specific proposals that he and Senate Republicans are pursuing. The first: “If the administration does not change its mind on trying 9/11 terrorists in Manhattan, we will do everything we can to deny them the funds they’ll need to do so.” The second is inviting Holder to testify before Congress, explaining the administration’s response to the Christmas bomber. As of now, Holder has not responded to the request.

With popular opinion seemingly shifting in favor of holding detainees at Guantanamo, rather than a facility in Illinois, and holding military tribunals in Guantanamo, rather than civilian trails in New York, McConnell thinks that the Democrats are making a huge political mistake by forcing the issue on the American public. Obama’s administration “is not only wrong on merits but it is wrong politically,” said McConnell. This is a hard lesson it will likely learn soon, with midterm elections around the corner.

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