Trying terror suspects in New York shows we have no fear

Thursday, November 19, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:48 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 19, 2009

I have been introduced to more conspiracy Web sites in the past three weeks than I thought were possible. From who killed President Kennedy (either the Mafia or J. Edger Hoover), to the U.S. Navy shooting down TWA flight 800 (or it was an onboard bomb), to who was “really” responsible for 9/11 (al Qaeda, the CIA or President Bush – personally) and, now, who is Major Nidal Malik Hasan and who gave him his orders. Al Qaeda? The Taliban? An imam in Virginia? The White House? The United States Army?

On the last, I firmly believe that the Army, the FBI and others messed things up when it came to investigating one of their own. The Associated Press reported that, “Hasan apparently slipped through cracks in the Army's personnel and mental health systems.” An abyss is more like it. Evidently, the Army was fearful of appearing to be accusing this man because of his religion. They were afraid.

Over the weekend, we learned that the alleged 9/11 attack master-mind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four of his cronies will be put on trial in New York City, just blocks away from Ground Zero. Political hero and former mayor Rudy Giuliani is among the 40 percent of New Yorkers who fear that the trial may result in another terrorist attack.

As a native New Yorker, I know that the city has been a major terrorist target for years. Two al Qaeda attempts to blow up the World Trade Center, the second more successful than the first, were designed to bring America to its knees. In a way, the terrorists have won this battle. Fear and fear mongering is alive and well.

I am appalled at the suggestions that the U.S. create internment camps to house anyone of Middle Eastern heritage or of the Muslim faith. That idea was a disaster during World War II. Religion, national origin, race or ethnicity alone or combined do not justify such barbaric actions. This and other “Islamphobic” reactions are only based on fear.

Sen. Jim DeMint’s, R-S.C., newest book, “Saving Freedom,” begins with a story from “The Andy Griffith Show.” A bully is demanding protection money (a nickel a day) by terrorizing poor Opie. One day, with the indirect advice of his father, Sheriff Andy Taylor, Opie refused to pay. The bully hit Opie in the eye. Opie could have done one of three things: pay the nickel, beat up the bully or walk away with his head held high. The last would be categorized as “proud and brave.” The first two, giving into fear.

The same Sen. DeMint offered an amendment on Nov. 5 to the “Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill to prevent” Mohammed and four other conspirators from being tried in an American court. “Congress must act now to stop the Obama Administration from transferring these violent terrorists to American soil.” Why is the Senator so afraid?

Franklin Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address, “that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” However, few remember the words that followed, providing a definition of the fear we know today as terrorism. That fear is the “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” We are still retreating.

The fear we are realizing is twofold. The first is, of course, that New York City will once again be attacked by terrorists. The second is that the American court system may find that the tactics used by terror… the American interrogators were illegal and the gang of five will be set free.

Because of our fear, we have resorted to renaming the terrorists so they would not be protected by either the Geneva Convention or American law, then subject to the same barbaric torture that al Qaeda and the Taliban have perpetrated against their own and ours. Are we not better than the enemy?

We need to have no fear. Of those polled in New York, 60 percent said that the trial should happen there. We need to trust our own system. Trying these men as the murderers they are, as terrorist like Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, in civilian court will show the world we are better, stronger and braver. That we have no fear.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.  Read his blog at  He welcomes your comments at

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