After an embarrassing few days of obfuscations and denials about the import of the terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253 — including Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ and Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano’s claim on the Sunday talk shows that the system was working perfectly — on Monday administration spokesmen tried to claim they meant that after the failed attack the system immediately took action by beefing up security. They also said that they responded at once by notifying all international airports as well as planes in the sky.
Finally, on Monday morning, President Barack Obama addressed the public from his vacation spot in Hawaii. The statement made by the president, however, inadvertently displayed the great problems with his approach towards the jihad waged by worldwide radical Islamist terrorists.
First, President Obama said the following: “As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, setting off a fire.” (my emphasis) The language is that of courtroom legalese, carefully indicating that a suspect is only “allegedly” guilty of anything, until such time as a jury is convinced by a trial that he was indeed the party responsible for the crime committed.
But as the world knows, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was indeed very guilty, and only because a Dutch filmmaker sitting near him interceded and subdued him, helping put out the fire at the same time, was the plot unsuccessful. Rather than treat the culprit as a foreign national who became converted in London to the doctrines of radical Islam by mullahs at his local mosque, evidently the decision has been made to treat him as a defendant in a criminal case, with a subsequent trial in which his guilt is not to be prejudged. Although he is a foreign national, evidently he will be treated as if he were an American citizen.
Perhaps that is why at present, the government has not been able to obtain necessary DNA samples from him, since Abdulmutallab clearly does not want to voluntarily acquiesce in giving a sample to the FBI. Coercion and rough treatment, including serious interrogation about the involvement of others, could be used against the government in any ensuing trial.
One might contrast this strongly with the decision made during the Second World War by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. When would-be Nazi saboteurs landed off Long Island in a sub ready to move throughout the country and engage in sabotage, the plot fell apart when one of their numbers surrendered and implicated his fellow plotters. They were all arrested and tried in a secret military tribunal, and duly executed. The public was not informed; there was no hesitancy in carrying out a tough sentence, and nothing at all said about treating them as criminal defendants in a New York City court.