In the wake of the arrest of alleged terrorist Faisal Shahzad, a number of Republican politicians have expressed outrage that the naturalized American citizen is being afforded the constitutional rights of citizenship.
Major General (ret.) Paul Eaton told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Tuesday, “I am a little surprised that we’re here to defend our Constitution against a Republican senator and a Republican representative’s attack on it.”
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Representative Peter King (R-NY) have both suggested that it was an error to read Shahzad his Miranda rights and to keep him in the civilian justice system rather than immediately handing him over to the military.
“From a national security perspective, it’s damaging,” Eaton said of their statements. “Right now, the FBI and our police forces are looking over their shoulder every time they hear a Republican come off with a remark like that. … Since January of 2009, we have seen a relentless attack on our FBI, on our armed services, on our policemen by the Republican Party. Any opportunity that they can find … they have pursued. … I want them to cut it out.”
Eaton, who retired from the Army in 2006, has since been a supporter of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He is currently a senior adviser with the National Security Network, a progressive think-tank with close ties to the Obama administration. It was Eaton who slammed former Vice President Dick Cheney last fall as an “incompetent war fighter,” after Cheney had criticized the Obama administration as weak on national security, and he appears to be carrying out the same function now.
“It’s a purely partisan approach,” Easton said of the Republican criticisms. “They’re after trying to frustrate the president in his role as providing for the national security. And in so doing, they’re actually attacking the viability of the national security of the United States. … They’ve chosen to go off the reservation, and they’re doing a bad job.”
In the wake of the Fort Hood shooting, the Christmas day underpants bomber, and this latest botched car bomb, the Obama administration is clearly concerned about these kind of “lone wolf” incidents, which may paradoxically reflect al Qaeda’s growing weakness and inability to mount more serious attacks.
Last fall, terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins testified before Congress that after eight years of constant assault, al Qaeda has been reduced to “a strategy of weakness,” which “envisions an army of autonomous terrorist operatives, united in a common cause, but not connected organizationally.”
Jenkins’ suggestion that al Qaeda might reach out to disaffected young Muslims in the United States was quickly seized upon by conservatives to criticize the Obama administration and call for harsher measures. When asked by Raw Story how he felt about his warnings being misappropriated, however, Jenkins pointed in response to a recent article, in which he had written:
“The past decade also saw an unprecedented assertion of presidential authority, electronic surveillance without warrants, the detention of individuals solely on the basis of their having been declared enemy combatants, secret and indefinite imprisonment without trial, and the use of coercive interrogation techniques that before 9/11 would readily have been labeled torture. These were the greatest dangers posed by terror: that it would erode our own democracy, our traditional respect for human rights, our commitment to the law itself. Fortunately, these excesses were challenged in the courts, in Congress and by the electorate, and they are now being corrected.”
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast May 4, 2010.