CBS’s Smith Sees No Left-Wing Agenda in NYC Terror Trials

Harry Smith and Rudy Giuliani, CBS On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, after Rudy Giuliani suggested the Obama administration was trying to “satisfy left-wing critics” by trying 9/11 terrorists in civilian court, incredulous co-host Harry Smith saw no such connection: “But Hang on. So it’s – so the idea of them being tried in open court is a left-wing political agenda?”

Smith began the interview with the former New York City Mayor by skeptically wondering: “You said yesterday that this was a political decision. How is it – do you think it’s a political decision?” Giuliani responded: “Well, it’s a political decision because I believe that this is being done to satisfy left-wing critics....After all, it was lawyers in Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm that challenged the military tribunal, challenged the habeas corpus, fought these cases all throughout. So I think this is a political agenda.”

After Smith was taken aback by the charge that liberal politics was involved in the decision, Giuliani began to explain: “Of course. Because they could be tried in military courts. As everyone else was up until now. And it would add-” Smith cut him off: “So as the attorney general yesterday, ‘we need not cower in the face of this enemy’” Giuliani shot back: “Please let me finish what I was saying. I didn’t get a chance to complete my thought.”

Giuliani continued to emphasize the political motivation: “And this is something that was pushed very, very hard by the left-wing for President Obama to do and he’s been criticized for delaying in doing it.” Smith tried to discredit the former Mayor: “And you’ve been criticized, though, because some people feel it’s a flip-flop on your part, the ‘Blind Shaikh’ and other conspirators in the first World Trade Center bombing, were tried here in New York successfully. You called it a symbol of American justice.” Giuliani pointed out: “The reality is of course there was no military tribunal in 1993. It would have been absurd for me to argue for a military tribunal in 1993.”

At the top of the interview, Smith tried to portray a CBS poll showing a clear majority of people opposed to trying the 9/11 terrorists in civilian court as evidence that Americans were “deeply divided” over the issue. He reported: “40% said the trial should be in open federal court. 54% said they should take place in a closed military court.”

In his final question to Giuliani, Smith asked about the Ft. Hood shooting: “...a 2007 performance review of Major Nidal Hasan....[shows] He’s dealing with PTSD patients and he’s talking to them about Jihad, it sounds like. How is it that in this day and age we’re still not able to connect the dots?” Giuliani blamed the political correctness pushed by the left: “I think there’s a fear that you’re going to be accused of discriminating against people of the Islamic religion.... It comes with the administration saying you can’t use the term ‘war on terror’....they’re committing these crimes in the name of Jihad. That is precisely what Major Hasan was doing. The administration doesn’t seem to want to recognize that.”

Smith loyally defended the Obama administration: “Except – except the report was written in 2007 and that was – way precedes the Obama administration, so I’m not sure there can be a delineation that – that you’re trying to make.”

Here is a full transcript of the segment:
7:07AM

HARRY SMITH: Now to the latest on the 9/11 suspects coming to New York City. The man who made the controversial decision to put them on trial in federal court told the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wednesday, why he’s doing it. CBS News chief judicial correspondent Bob Orr is in Washington with the story. Good morning, Bob.

BOB ORR: Good morning, Harry. Well, Attorney General Eric Holder is strongly defending his decision to try confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in New York, saying the criminal justice system will win a conviction.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Terror On Trial; A.G. Holder Defends Court Decision]

ERIC HOLDER: Failure is not an option. This – these are cases that have to be won.

ORR: But Senate Republicans ripped Holder’s decision, saying public testimony could compromise sensitive intelligence.

JEFF SESSIONS: I believe this decision is dangerous. I believe it’s misguided.

ORR: Critics said Holder should have left Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his four henchmen in military court, where they had already asked to be martyred.

HOLDER: I’m not going to base a determination on where these cases ought to be brought on what a terrorist, what a murderer wants to do. He will not select the prosecution venue. I will select it. And I have.

ORR: But 9/11 families who watched the hearing, wearing and holding pictures of victims, also challenged the decision and quietly confronted Holder in the hearing room. Geraldine Davie lost a daughter in the World Trade Center.

GERALDINE DAVIE: My country already let me down once and my daughter was caught in the cross hairs. Now this is letting me down a second time? This is unconscionable. Absolutely unconscionable.

ORR: Now, Holder said if somehow the government manages to lose the case, KSM and the others would not be freed. In fact, they would continue to be held as enemy combatants. Harry.

SMITH: Bob Orr in Washington this morning, thanks. Americans are deeply divided on where Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the other defendants should be tried. In a recent CBS News poll, 40% said the trial should be in open federal court. 54% said they should take place in a closed military court. Former New York City Mayor and federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani has called this one of the worst decisions of the Obama administration. He joins us this morning. Good morning, Mr. Mayor.

RUDY GIULIANI: Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Rudy’s Outrage; Former Mayor Bashes Decision On Terror Trial Venue]

SMITH: You said yesterday that this was a political decision. How is it – do you think it’s a political decision?

GIULIANI: Well, it’s a political decision because I believe that this is being done to satisfy left-wing critics who all during the last two or three years have campaigned against these military tribunals. After all, it was lawyers in Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm that challenged the military tribunal, challenged the habeas corpus, fought these cases all throughout. So I think this is a political agenda. Because it makes no sense. There’s no reason for it, it’s unnecessary-

SMITH: But Hang on. So it’s – so the idea of them being tried in open court is a left-wing political agenda?

GIULIANI: Of course. Because they could be tried in military courts. As everyone else was up until now. And it would add-

SMITH: So as the attorney general yesterday-

GIULIANI: And it was – let me finish what I’m saying-

SMITH: -‘we need not cower in the face of this enemy’-

GIULIANI: Please let me finish what I was saying. I didn’t get a chance to complete my thought.

SMITH: Go ahead.

GIULIANI: The – the reality is that they could be tried in a military tribunal, there is no reason to try them in a – in a civilian court. Others are going to be tried in the military tribunal. And the reality is we’ve never done this before. And this is something that was pushed very, very hard by the left-wing for President Obama to do and he’s been criticized for delaying in doing it.

SMITH: And you’ve been criticized, though, because some people feel it’s a flip-flop on your part, the ‘Blind Shaikh’ and other conspirators in the first World Trade Center bombing, were tried here in New York successfully. You called it a symbol of American justice.

GIULIANI: Yeah, correct, the people who accused me of a flip-flop were on Sunday when I appeared on the talk shows, the Obama administration did. The reality is of course there was no military tribunal in 1993. It would have been absurd for me to argue for a military tribunal in 1993. And in 2006, there was no military tribunal because lawyers that worked for Attorney General Holder and others had gotten them declared unconstitutional. They’ve since been fixed. Now there’s a military tribunal. And if there wasn’t a military tribunal, I would be the first one to say ‘try them in federal court, try them in New York, we have no other choice and we will show that we can – we can provide justice.’ But military courts can provide justice just as well without the same unnecessary risk.

SMITH: Alright, let me ask you this question very quickly. And this is a little bit off the subject. But about connecting the dots. There was a report on NPR yesterday that says it’s obtained a 2007 performance review of Major Nidal Hasan, this doctor who is alleged to have fired at all of these soldiers down in Ft. Hood. And in this performance report, it said ‘while he was competent to deliver safe patient care, he demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment, lack of professionalism, counseled for inappropriately discussing religious topics with assigned patients.’ He’s dealing with PTSD patients and he’s talking to them about Jihad, it sounds like. How is it that in this day and age we’re still not able to connect the dots?

GIULIANI: Oh, I think – I think there’s a tremendous thrust – and particularly in these areas – not to do it. Because I think there’s a fear that you’re going to be accused of discriminating against people of the Islamic religion. There isn’t an ability to separate these two things. It comes with the administration saying you can’t use the term ‘war on terror.’ You can’t talk about Islamic extremism terrorism. You’ve got to call it something else. There’s even a – some kind of a word category they set up for it, which sounds a little Orwellian. But the reality is we can make the distinction. There are wonderful people of the Islamic religion, most of them. Then there are Islamic terrorists. And they are committing these crimes, not for some abstract reason, not for some unconnected reason, they’re committing these crimes in the name of Jihad. That is precisely what Major Hasan was doing. The administration doesn’t seem to want to recognize that. And until it does, it’s going to send a signal all through – all through the bureaucracy, including the Army, ‘you better be careful, you’ll be an accused of profiling. You’ll be accused of discriminating.’

SMITH: Except – except the report was written in 2007 and that was – way precedes the Obama administration, so I’m not sure there can be a delineation that – that you’re trying to make.

GIULIANI: Oh, but those criticisms – those criticisms were happening politically way back 2003, 2004.

SMITH: Okay.

GIULIANI: A whole sense of don’t profile, don’t pick on people. That’s been going on for some quite some time. The Obama administration has kind of institutionalized it now, but that’s been going on for – for a number of years.

SMITH: We got to go. Mr. Mayor, thanks for your time this morning.

GIULIANI: Thank you.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC