Sen. Lindsey Graham is up in arms, and he should be. The Obama administration failed to inform Congress that it planned to bring Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, to New York City for a civilian trial on charges of conspiring to kill Americans.
Ghaith is not a common criminal. He has been a top al Qaeda lieutenant of his late father-in-law for years; he appeared in a video alongside bin Laden taking credit for the 9-11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000, most of those casualties at the World Trade Center in New York. He is a true enemy combatant against the United States and should be subjected to trial under the laws of war.
Three years ago, the Obama administration attempted to hold the trial of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, as a civilian trial. The outcry was so fierce that the administration was forced to abandon that plan. KSM is facing a military tribunal, where he will not be able to grandstand to generate headlines and sympathy, and where the rules of evidence are different, and where he is subjected to the laws of war.
The Obama administration appears to have learned from that experience. Rather than inform Congress or anyone else beforehand of its intent to grant Ghaith a civilian trial, they just snuck him into the country and are making his civilian trial a fait accompli. Congress should ask, before the American people, why this president is so determined to give al Qaeda thugs access to our civilian courts, and the rights of US citizens accused of ordinary crimes.
Graham’s rage comes just a day after Sen. Rand Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA, citing the administration’s lack of transparency on the anti-terror drone program. Americans only found out that that program exists in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. The Obama administration leaked details of the program to media to shore up the president’s national security credentials.
Graham railed against Paul’s filibuster yesterday. He may be eating his words today, as another example of the Obama administration’s stubborn and opaque behavior comes to light.