Brooks: 'What Biden Said on [MTP] Today Will be Laughed at Around the Arab World'
New York Times columnist David Brooks says that what Vice President Joe Biden told NBC's David Gregory Sunday concerning the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City doesn't pass the laugh test.
"What Joe Biden said on ['Meet the Press'] today will be laughed at around the Arab world."
Maybe even more shocking, speaking during the panel discussion segment that followed Biden's interview, Brooks agreed with some things former Vice President Dick Cheney spoke about concerning this matter on ABC's "This Week."
"The KSM trial has become a total mess. What Joe Biden said today on the program doesn't pass the laugh test," Brooks said. "[T]he second thing I think Cheney's actually right about is Mirandizing."
Brooks amazingly continued: "[S]ay we'd captured the 9/11 guys on September 10th, or one of them, should we have read that guy his rights and given him a lawyer? No. We should have tried to get some intelligence out of the guy" (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: David Brooks, the national security fight. You heard Vice President Biden taking on his predecessor. This is now a fully engaged argument about whether the Obama administration is sufficiently serious when it's taking on the war on terror. He said of Cheney, he's either "misinformation or misinforming."
MR. DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: On the big picture he's right. I mean, if you cover the Obama administration, they take it seriously. The idea that they don't know we're at war, they don't pay attention, they have the daily intelligence briefs. They take this utterly seriously. So Cheney's large charge is completely bogus. As for the specifics, I think there are a couple of things he's right about. The KSM trial has become a total mess. What Joe Biden said today on the program doesn't pass the laugh test. The idea that we're going to try a guy, not acquit him, apparently, if, beforehand, are we going to make Dick Cheney the foreman of the jury? I mean, how do we know that? And then let him walk three. The second, free. And then the second thing I think Cheney's actually right about is Mirandizing. We, if we--say we'd captured the 9/11 guys on September 10th, or one of them, should we have read that guy his rights and given him a lawyer? No. We should have tried to get some intelligence out of the guy.
MR. GREGORY: Rachel?
MS. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: There--there's--there isn't, in this case, and there hasn't been in any known modern terrorism case, any correlation between the usefulness of an interrogation and whether or not somebody gets read their Miranda rights. It just isn't the case. And in every single instance, every single terrorism case where there's been an arrest in this country in a terrorism case since 9/11, every single one has been handled--the person has been handled as a civilian criminal. There was a moment when Jose Padilla and, and Ali Amari were handed--handled in military custody. There's nothing magic about the time that they were in military custody. They didn't do any more magical forms of talking that they wouldn't do when they were civilians. So, even on those grounds, I think that, I, I think what you see as being correct in the, in the vice president's charges, I just, I just don't think it's there.
FMR. REP. HAROLD FORD JR. (D-TN): Furthermore...
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
REP. FORD: ...I think it's only fair, this president has been as tough as anyone's been on terrorists. Throughout the--throughout his campaign, he promised he was willing to go into Pakistan if need be. He was criticized by Republicans and Democrats. As you heard Vice President Biden, they've taken down several of the top 20 that we wanted to find in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our efforts in Afghanistan, 35,000 additional troops, some in the Democratic Party were opposed to it. This president charged ahead. The efforts in the last few days. I think it's--we can point around the edges a bit, but I think it's unfair to say this administration has not been tough, has not been focused and determined in going after terrorists.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman Schock, did--the accusation that is still leveled and that former Vice President Cheney in an interview this morning is saying, is that the administration does not consider these acts acts of war. They are still considering them criminal acts, which he says is the wrong way to keep America safe.
REP. AARON SCHOCK (R-IL): Well, look, all I can tell you is what my constituents are telling me and where I think most of Americans are, which is they see an American citizen who attacks their soldiers at a, at a base in Fort Hood, Texas, tried in a military tribunal. And they see a foreigner who comes to our soil for the sole purpose of attacking our country and our American citizens and he's read his Miranda rights. The majority of Americans, the polls indicate, do not support the president and this administration's plan to try these people in civilian court. And I think it's rightfully so why the administration is now backpedaling on their decision to hold these trials in downtown New York.
MS. MADDOW: I...
MR. GREGORY: Let me just take on one issue and then you can make your point.
MS. MADDOW: OK.
MR. GREGORY: I want to go back to the, the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial, because I think this is the point that I was trying to ask the vice president about. Here was the headline in The Washington Post this week about how this is unfolding politically, which is not well for the administration. Obama to help pick the location of the terror trial, which can only be seen as a shot against his attorney general and his decision originally to put it in New York, which they reversed from. The tension here, Rachel, the whole reason why there are enemy combatants is to say these are warriors, they're not criminals. They--the president says that al-Qaeda is trying to destroy America, that we are at war. So these are warriors. And by virtue of the fact that the administration is saying, "We're never going to release this guy even if he were to be acquitted," does that not make the point that they should not even enter our justice system where there is due process, where there is a presumption of innocence, where any prosecutor knows the consequences that the defendant walks if they--they're not convicted?
MS. MADDOW: I, I think that in--even in the case of heinous crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism, that have nothing to do with foreign nationals, there is a, there is a frustration that there's a case that people who we believe are guilty might somehow get away. There's this frustration. That's what drives lynch mob mentality. I mean, we've always had that sort of tension. But the fact remains, there have been three convictions under military tribunals, three, and two of the people convicted are now free. It's no great guarantee that anything awesome is going to happen in terms of guaranteeing guilt and guaranteeing a long sentence to do the, to do the tribunal route. When the--when, when Richard Reid came up in civilian court and he tried to make the case that he wanted to be called a soldier, he wanted to be called--he wanted to be treated in the terms of war, the judge in the case, William Young, said, "You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not, you are not a soldier in any war. To call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. War talk is way out of line in this court. You're a big fellow, but you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist, a species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders." I think Americans cheer that sentiment, and the idea that we're going to elevate Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and call him some sort of warrior when he's comparing himself to George Washington at Guantanamo, it's disgusting.
MR. GREGORY: But, David Brooks, the president is spending a great deal of political capital on a decision that was being made to put him in the civilian system so that the rest of the world thinks we're fair. And yet, the vice president this morning is saying, "He's going to be convicted. He's going to die." Other administration officials, including the president, has said that, that he'll most likely face the, the death penalty. How is this holding up American jurisprudence?
MR. BROOKS: Yeah, well, this is a policy in transition. Eric Holder, the attorney general, took this decision without consulting the president, without consulting the national security apparatus, did it on his own. And slowly, and now quickly, the White House is pulling that back. And so they are going to try to, I think, take--well, take it out of New York. But they're not there yet. The idea that we can try someone and, and guarantee a conviction and guarantee they won't walk free, I mean, this, this is a betrayal of our values. I mean, what--the, the correct charges against Gitmo were that it's a betrayal of our values. We're fighting our values in a way that--we're fighting this war in a way that betrays who we really are. And this is the essence of that. What Joe Biden said on the program today will be laughed at around the Arab world.
Seems a metaphysical certitude Brooks's opinion of the Vice President's comments won't be shared by many in the Obama-loving media.