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Adam Blickstein

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Keep America Afraid

Posted: 01/28/10 10:19 AM ET

Keep America Safe has yet another video meant to scare the American people, not provide the real facts on America's counterterrorism efforts. The ad calls President Obama's policies dangerous and provides a laundry list of political talking points that have no bearing on enhancing American security, but seeks to defend failed legacies and score political points. Among the so-called 'dangerous policies':

Closing Guantanamo Bay

As Rep. Jane Harman said this month, "if we really want to do counterterrorism right, we have to eliminate one of Al Qaeda's top recruiting tools, that's Guantanamo Bay." And she's not alone:

Gen. David Petraeus: With respect to Guantanamo, I think that the closure in a responsible manner, obviously one that is certainly being worked out now by the Department of Justice...But doing that in a responsible manner, I think, sends an important message to the world, as does the commitment of the United States to observe the Geneva Convention when it comes to the treatment of detainees.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen: "The chief of the U.S. military said he favors closing the prison here as soon as possible because he believes negative publicity worldwide about treatment of terrorist suspects has been "pretty damaging" to the image of the United States."

'"I'd like to see it shut down," Adm. Mike Mullen said Jan. 13 in an interview with three reporters who toured the detention center with him on his first visit since becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last October'"

Sen. John McCain: "I have supported the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay for many years, but I have always stated that we need a comprehensive plan to close Guantanamo safely and legally.

Sending Terrorists Back to the Middle East

While the Obama administration suspended the transfer of detainees to Yemen, it was the Bush administration whose own policies are largely responsible for Guantanamo detainees returning to the battlefield, including the masterminds of the failed Christmas Day bomber plot:

CNN: Critics of the Guantanamo transfers have raised concerns over political instability in Yemen and the presence of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, noting that some previous detainees released to Yemen by the Bush administration have renewed their terrorist ties.

Washington Post: Former detainees of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have led and fueled the growing assertiveness of the al-Qaeda branch that claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner...

They include two Saudi nationals: the deputy leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Said Ali al-Shihri, and the group's chief theological adviser, Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish. Shihri and Rubaish were released under the Bush administration, as was a Yemeni man killed in a government raid this month while allegedly plotting an attack on the British Embassy.

The Bush administration couldn't even maintain their files on dangerous terrorists in a responsible and secure manner, so should we be surprised that Bush and Cheney released dangerous terrorists back to the battlefield? Meanwhile, the Obama administration's record? Extremely competent with American security as the first priority:

The administration doesn't believe that any of the detainees released under Obama have gone into terror-related activity -- because the Obama administration has a better screening process in place to determine which detainees pose a threat.

"We have been presented with no information that suggests that any of the detainees transferred by this administration have returned to the fight," the official says.

The official suggested that the possibility that all the recidivists were released under Bush shows that the previous administration didn't do the work of screening detainees slated for release that the Obama administration is doing.

Trying 9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Civilian Courts:

The Bush administration oversaw civilian trials for hundred of dangerous terrorists in civilian courts, including:

Zacharias Moussaoui. Convicted of conspiring to kill Americans for his role in the 9/11 attacks, Moussaoui is currently serving a life sentence at ADX Florence.

Richard C. Reid.  The so-called "Shoe Bomber," Reid was convicted for trying to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic with explosives in his shoe.  He is currently serving a life sentence at ADX Florence.

Ahmed Ressam The so-called Millenium bomber who was convicted and sentenced in civilian court to 22 years in prison in a plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve 1999.

In fact, since 9/11 under the Bush administration, only three terrorists designated as enemy combatants have been convicted and sentenced using military commissions, all at Guantanamo: Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was subsequently released to Yemen, David Hicks who was subsequently released to his native Australia, and Ali al-Bahlul, who is now serving a life sentence at Guantanamo Bay. Meanwhile, nearly 200 terrorists have been tried, convicted and imprisoned using American civilian courts. And the only two terrorists previously been charged and detained as enemy combatants on America soil, José Padilla and Ali al-Marri were later transferred to the civilian judicial system and tried, convicted and sentenced using American courts.

The military commissions Keep America Safe and conservatives advocate have the worst record possible to actually bring terrorists to justice and keep them in prison.

Reading the Christmas Day Bomber His Miranda Rights Instead of Interrogating Him: 

This is probably the most egregious assertion of all since it betrays facts as presented not even a month ago. 

According to Federal officials: Captured after a bomb hidden in his underwear ignited but failed to explode, Abdulmutallab spoke freely and provided valuable intelligence, officials said. Federal agents repeatedly interviewed him or heard him speak to others...The interview lasted about 50 minutes. Before they began questioning Abdulmutallab, the FBI agents decided not to give him his Miranda warnings providing his right to remain silent.

And the fact that Abdulmutallab wasn't read his rights didn't faze interrogators, since gathering the intelligence and protecting America was more important than potentially inadmissible evidence in court:

Even if Abdulmutallab's statements are ruled out as evidence, they still provided valuable intelligence for U.S. counterterrorism officials to pursue, officials said.

That reality completely undercuts the Keep America Safe video, and supports the notion that valuable intelligence was gathered before any Miranda rights were administered. And in case the GOP points to the fact he fell silent after his initial interrogation, Spencer Ackerman astutely observes:

FBI interrogators, to the contrary, read him his Miranda rights after they were satisfied that he had no further information about any further attacks.

The bottom line is while President Obama is actually developing a coherent, competent and effective counterterroism policy, Liz Cheney and her failed ideology continue to demonstrate they no intention whatsoever of helping keep America safe. All she and her followers care about is keeping America scared and misinformed in order to play politics with our national security.