Political Correction

Rep. McCotter Raises Absurd Argument Against KSM Trial

November 16, 2009 6:20 pm ET - by Matt Finkelstein

Last week, the Obama administration announced that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed would be transferred to New York City to face prosecution in federal court.  Republicans responded to the news, almost in chorus, by attacking the administration.  According to many conservatives, terrorists must be treated like enemy combatants -- not criminals -- and efforts to punish those responsible for killing thousands of Americans serve as evidence that the president isn't "serious" about defeating terrorism. 

During an interview on Fox Red Eye, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) blasted the Obama administration for failing to recognize the "very simple" distinction between criminal and martial matters.  In doing so, however, McCotter raised one of the most absurd arguments yet.  Basically, he said that terrorists aren't criminals because their goal isn't to make a profit:

MCCOTTER: What you're starting to see out of this administration, again, is a continued ideological decision making process that is beyond what I believe to be a responsible approach to winning the war for freedom against terror.  When you again hear that this is simply a criminal matter, the differentiation between criminal and martial is very simple.  The criminals try to use murder and mayhem to make a profit.  What Al Qaeda is doing is using murder, mayhem, and every means at their disposal to kill American citizens, to kill our allies, and to destroy our interests throughout the world.  This is not simply a criminal enterprise gamed at making money.  That is the key distinction that continues to be missed by this administration. 

Of course, McCotter's reasoning is completely illogical.  Since when is financial motivation a prerequisite for something to qualify as a crime?  McCotter is a lawyer, by the way. 

In reality, the U.S. justice system has a strong and long record of convicting international terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda, and conservatives didn't object when the last administration did it.  But, faced with this inconsistency, McCotter avoided giving a straight answer.

Moreover, the Obama administration has an impressive counter-terrorism record so far.  As Steve Benen wrote, "The administration isn't relying on torture, and is nevertheless stopping, catching, and killing the bad guys."

Watch McCotter's appearance here

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