Sunday, August 29, 2010

USS Cole Bomber Trial Cancelled Again

USS Cole On October 12, 2000, the USS Cole (DDG 67) was attacked by al-Qaeda jihadists while docked at a port in Yemen. A boat loaded with explosives ripped a huge hole in the side of the ship, killing 17 sailors and wounded dozens of others. The Clinton administration, as with previous attacks by terrorist organizations, refused to classify the attack as the act of war it was, portraying it instead as a criminal act by isolated individuals (sound familiar?). Mr Clinton vowed that the perpetrators would be brought to justice, but did nothing except to launch a few missiles, usually timed to deflect media coverage of certain developments in the Monica Lewinski case.

George Bush ignored the incident after taking office until the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC. He did try one suspect at Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay) and retaliated against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Unfortunately, in seeking the cooperation of the corrupt President Saleh of Yemen, Mr Bush allowed him to reduce sentences or issue outright pardons on the captured terrorist, all of whom have now been released or allowed to escape to re-join al-Qaeda. In June 2008, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the suspected mastermind being held at Gitmo, was charged with planning and conducting the Cole attack, with the US Military planning to seek the death penalty.

Unfortunately, before al-Nashiri was brought to military trial, B Hussein Obama became president and took Mr Clinton’s “Thank you sir, may I have another?” policy of dealing with the terrorists to a new level. Upon assuming office, he immediately rewarded his far left base by issuing an executive order halting all proceeding in the US Military Commissions:

The Secretary of Defense shall immediately take steps sufficient to ensure that during the pendency of the Review described in section 4 of this order, no charges are sworn, or referred to a military commission under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Rules for Military Commissions, and that all proceedings of such military commissions to which charges have been referred but in which no judgment has been rendered, and all proceedings pending in the United States Court of Military Commission Review, are halted.
When the supervising judge over the al-Nashiri trial, Army Col James Pohl refused Mr Obama’s order, calling it “not reasonable” and “not in the interests of justice”, Susan Crawford, the convening authority for the commission, withdrew the charges against al-Nashiri. This saved Mr Obama, who was preparing to order the Commission to drop the charges, from the publicity of a clash with Col Pohl. The charges were withdrawn without prejudice, which meant that they could be reinstated at a later date in a military commission or pursued in a civilian court., but no charges have been re-filed to date

Now, as we approach the tenth anniversary of the attack, the Obama administration has once again halted the planned persecution of al-Nashiri as reported by the Washington Post.

With the 10th anniversary of the Cole bombing approaching on Oct. 12, relatives of those killed in the attack expressed deep frustration with the delay. "After 10 years, it seems like nobody really cares," said Gloria Clodfelter, whose 21-year-old son, Kenneth, was killed on the Cole.

Military prosecutors allege that Nashiri, a Saudi national, was a senior al-Qaeda operative and close associate of Osama bin Laden, who orchestrated the suicide attack on the Cole. Nashiri was scheduled to be arraigned in February 2009 but the new administration instructed military prosecutors to suspend legal proceedings at Guantanamo Bay. The charges against Nashiri were withdrawn.

In a filing this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department said that "no charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future."

The statement, tucked into a motion to dismiss a petition by Nashiri's attorneys, suggests that the prospect of further military trials for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has all but ground to a halt, much as the administration's plan to try the accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in federal court has stalled.

USS Cole Casket So, Mr Obama, who upon dropping the charges in February 2009, promised family members of the slain troops that the terror suspects would be prosecuted and brought “to a swift and certain justice”, still refuses to deliver upon this promise. There are many different theories as to why the process continues to stall. Almost all of them are political, so we won’t debate the lack of merits of each at this time.

We must wonder however, why the families of the victims can’t be given the same consideration that continues to be given to the murderers of their loved ones? This administration continues to worry about the rights and comforts of terrorists while disregarding those of our brave men and women putting their lives on the line for our protection and liberties. The victims of the Cole terrorist attacks deserve better than to be thought of as an inconvenient asterisk to be swept under the rug of political correctness and misguided tolerance.

Before we end this article, I’d like to mention that the father of fireman Gary Swenchonis Jr, one of the brave sailors killed in the attacks, has an excellent blog called Terrorism: Politicians and Victims. This highly recommended site contains many great articles relating to the USS Cole and other terrorist activity, along with excellent analysis of the political aspects.

Finally, we ask our readers to continue to pray for the families, friends and fellow sailors of the brave victims who paid the ultimate price in serving our country. Their pictures are below. May they not be forgotten.

First Row (L to R)
Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, Hull Maintenance Technician Third Class, Mechanicsville, Virginia
Richard Costelow, Chief Petty Officer, Morrisville, Pennsylvania
Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, Mess Management Specialist Seaman, Woodleaf, North Carolina
Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, Information Systems Technician Seaman, Rice, Texas
Cheron Luis Gunn, 22, Signalman Seaman Recruit, Rex, Georgia
James Rodrick McDaniels, Seaman, Norfolk, Virginia

Second Row (L to R)
Mark Ian Nieto, Engineman 2nd Class, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Ronald Scott Owens, Electronics Warfare Technician Third Class, Vero Beach, Florida
Lakiba Nicole Palmer, Seaman Recruit, San Diego, California
Joshua Langdon Parlett, Engineman Fireman, Churchville, Maryland
Patrick Howard Roy, Fireman Apprentice, Keedysville, Maryland
Kevin Shawn Rux, Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class, Portland, North Dakota

Third Row (L to R)
Ronchester Mananga Santiago, Mess Management Specialist Third Class, Kingsville, Texas
Timothy Lamont Saunders, Operations Specialist Second Class, Ringgold, Virginia
Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr, Fireman, Rockport, Texas
Andrew Triplett, 30, Ensign, Macon, Mississippi
Craig Bryan Wibberley, Seaman Apprentice, Williamsport, Maryland
USS COLE Memorial, Naval Station Norfolk Virginia


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