“Trying the mastermind of 9/11 in New York City? This Obama is a disaster of Biblical proportions,” a fellow murmurs to me in the synagogue, although he offers no sources in Scripture for his assertion. Presumably he means nothing more than to compare our President to some of the less highly-regarded kings whose exploits are rendered in the holy texts. But his line gave me pause: who does Obama bring to mind among those figures? And is the handling of Khalid Sheik Muhammad specifically violative of Biblical norms?
My first thought was of King Amaziah in Kings II Chapter 14. This was at the time when there were two Jewish kingdoms, Judea and Israel, dividing the territory of the original Holy Land and maintaining an uneasy peace. Amaziah was king of Judea, the smaller monarchy. He successfully prosecuted a war against the neighboring country of Edom and, flushed with victory, he sent emissaries to King Joash of Israel challenging him to a war.
The message Joash returned is a classic (verse 9 and 10): “The thistle in the forest sent the cedar in the forest a request for their offspring to be grafted together, until a group of wild animals from the forest passed through and trampled the thistle. You defeated Edom and your heart is carrying you away. Settle down and stay home and don’t look for trouble which will bring you and your people down.”
Here is a wonderful image to describe a young whippersnapper who wins an election and thinks he can conquer the world. He may have worked his way into the big forest but he is still a thistle, his lack of experience and lack of substance leaving him a fragile target for the vicious creatures who roam the dark woods.
To see Obama swagger his way into the center of every major issue, from Mideast negotiations to restructuring the entire American health-care system, expecting full resolutions in a short time with a few easy steps, is to see those verses come alive.
AS FOR THE DECISION to bring Khalid Sheik Muhammad to a civilian trial in New York City, a different story in Kings I applies vividly. King Ahab, husband of Jezebel, led the kingdom of Israel for some years, behaving in reprehensible ways. He encouraged the spread of idolatry and he stood by while his wife rounded up the legitimate prophets and executed them.
Yet God tolerated King Ahab and allowed his rule to be fairly effective, with the exception of a period of famine designed to wean the citizenry from trusting the illicit fetishes of fecundity. According to tradition, Ahab was granted wide latitude because he was a uniter who brought factions together harmoniously.
Then he made his first really false move, in Kings I Ch. 20, when his men captured Ben-Haddad, the vicious, marauding king of Syria (Aram), who had intended to wipe out the country and enslave its young. Ben-Haddad’s men advise him to soft-pedal his conversational tone when confronted by Ahab, because the Jewish kings want to be seen as nice guys. Sure enough, Ahab cuts his counterpart slack and restores him to his throne.
At that point, the prophet tells Ahab God will no longer forgive. “Because you released My antagonist from your hand…” (See Kings I 20:42.) This establishes a classic principle. Although the leader is held liable for guiding the people along ill-conceived moral and cultural paths, the one unforgivable act is sacrificing the safety of his charges for the sake of his image as a man of tolerance.
THIS IS CLEARLY what we are witnessing here with this perverse determination to try Khalid Sheik Muhammad in a civilian proceeding. By doing this, his prior guilty plea in a military tribunal is voided. Any attorney would now advise him to plead not guilty and recant his confession. Instead of the mountain going to Muhammad, it will more likely shrink to a molehill.
If indeed Muhammad claims now that his prior admissions were elicited by torture, he will have the explicit backing of the President. Obama has indicated not only that waterboarding qualifies as torture, but that no fair-minded attorney could possibly have reached the opposite conclusion in good faith. That’s right, just saying that waterboarding a terrorist prisoner is legal has been imputed to be a criminal act.
By definition, then, Obama and Holder have thrown out the evidence in advance of a trial. The fruit of the poisoned tree is not going to get you very far in the Big Apple. Time magazine hastens to assure us that there is still a slender chance that the government will somehow pull it off, because whiz-kid prosecutor Preet Bharara is on the job. Good grief!
For some years, Khalid Sheik Muhammad was the Moby Dick of the American intelligence community. Now Moby has met Captain Ahab and, lo and behold, he seems ready to throw him back into the water.
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