Henican: Obama reclaims war on terror from those who ignored our basic values
It was old-fashioned police work, overseen by a civilian federal court, that busted open Americas latest terror plot. Investigation, arrest, arraignment, evidence, prosecution and defense the time-honored techniques of the justice system serve us well again.
This is worth remembering as Barack Obama tries to reclaim the war on terror from the political scaredy-cats, those nervous Nellies who think we have to trade in our basic American values in order to be safe.
Its a false choice, the president made clear.Our leaders went off course in the war on terror, he said Thursday at the National Archives. Waterboarding and other torturous techniques did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts they undermined them. And the mess at Guantanamo Bay has weakened American national security by handing our worst enemies their easiest rallying cry.
And yet 10 blocks away at the American Enterprise Institute, there was Dick Cheney, still defending the discredited tactics of the past.
They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do, the former vice president said.
Its an important debate, this question of exactly what we believe in and exactly what we will do. But like most such debates, its unlikely to change many minds.
Maybe this will: a confidential informant. A careful surveillance program. A crafty sting. And the fine, quiet work of the New York Police Department and the FBI.
Thanks to the tools of traditional law enforcement, four alleged terrorists were taken off the streets Wednesday night and are likely on their way to long prison terms.
The scaredy-cats keep telling us that basic American justice doesnt work anymore, that concepts such as evidence and proof and constitutional rights are just too risky for such a dangerous age.
They say we just cant afford the values we used to afford.
Well, some hardworking cops and agents had a well-worn answer for that kind of thinking.
Youre under arrest, they said.