Al Qaeda's Civil Liberties Union
5:48 PM, Nov 17, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
"I'll talk to you guys after I get to New York and see my lawyer."
That, according to former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, is what September 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) said when he was captured in March 2003.
But of course the Bush administration did not grant KSM his wish. Instead, the master terrorist was seen as a potentially vital source of intelligence on al Qaeda, which had caught America sleeping less than two years earlier. If U.S. intelligence officials could get him to talk, the Bush administration and the U.S. intelligence community reasoned, then they could learn many of al Qaeda's well-guarded secrets.
And talk, KSM did. So much so, in fact, that he became the U.S. government's "preeminent source" on al Qaeda and even the "most prolific" detainee in custody. While in the CIA's detention, he identified (both wittingly and unwittingly) numerous of his fellow al Qaeda terrorists and divulged the details of much of al Qaeda's post-September 11 plotting.
If KSM were initially shipped to New York for trial, however, the outcome would most likely have been very different. As former DCI Tenet writes in his book At the Center of the Storm: "I believe none of these [counterterrorism] successes would have happened if we had to treat KSM like a white-collar criminal - read him his Miranda rights and get him a lawyer who surely would have insisted that his client simply shut up."
Tenet is undoubtedly right in this regard. KSM's lawyers surely would have advised him to clam up. Who are KSM's lawyers, in any event?
They are members of the ACLU's John Adams Project, which is run in conjunction with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The John Adams Project represents Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other 9/11 conspirators the Obama administration has decided to move to U.S. soil for trial. Thus, it is not surprising that the ACLU has praised the controversial move, saying it was "a major victory for due process and the rule of law."
It is nothing of the sort, but the ACLU consistently portrays itself in this light--as if it is only concerned with protecting the "rule of law." The reality is quite different. The ACLU has worked diligently to undermine America's stance in what was formerly known as the "war on terror," and has even been willing to disseminate propaganda on behalf of our jihadist enemies.
If you think this is hyperbole or an exaggeration, consider a video released by the ACLU earlier this month titled "Justice Denied: Voices from Guantanamo." As you would expect, the video portrays Gitmo in the worst possible light. But it goes well beyond any semblance of rational criticism. As Sahab, al Qaeda's media arm, could very well have produced it. The short video is pure anti-American propaganda, starring men who have dedicated their lives to the jihadist cause.
The ACLU's narrator begins by explaining that the men featured in the video were merely at the "wrong place" at the wrong time when they were captured. "They had the wrong appearance and practiced the wrong religion," the narrator says. "And for that, they were kidnapped, detained, interrogated, and tortured without trial or evidence."
The message is simple: America is an evil, bigoted nation that randomly imprisoned and tortured Muslim men at Gitmo.
There's just one problem: The men embraced by the ACLU do not fit this mindlessly anti-American storyline.
The first former Gitmo detainee to tell his story is Moazzam Begg. Begg made news earlier this year when he agreed to be the poster boy for a video game that would have allowed users to pretend they were innocents detained at Gitmo. The game's protagonists would then blast their way out of the detention facility, killing "mercenaries" (in reality, American soldiers) in the process. The game was quickly canceled after public outcry forced the company producing it to reconsider.
That Begg would lend his name to this revenge fantasy--told from the perspective of al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists--should have exposed him once and for all.