Obama harsher on U.S. citizen,  terror suspect than Bush was

There’s something strange in the tales of two traitors.

First, we have the curious case of one Jos&233; Padilla, who is resting comfortably on a mattress in a climate-controlled room in the confines of the maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., courtesy of President George W. Bush.

Then there is the case of one Anwar al-Awlaki, whose rest is not quite so comfy. He’s in the sands of the Middle East somewhere, we think. Al-Awlaki’s restlessness is understandable, given that he bears the weight of a summary death sentence to be delivered by a missile fired from a drone, a small, remote-controlled aircraft. Said death sentence is courtesy of President Barack Obama.

Padilla is an American citizen, so is Anwar Al-Awlaki.

Padilla stands convicted of aiding terrorists. His brand of aid, we’re told, was conspiring to deliver and explode a “dirty bomb” — a conventional weapon laced with radioactive material so as to spread extensive and long-lasting death to as many Americans as he could.

In short, Padilla, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, aspired to lethal competence only dreamed of by the likes of Osama bin Laden.

When Padilla was captured and designated an enemy combatant by Bush, the president was chastised for ignoring the civil liberties of a person whose respect for civil liberties could be described only in terms reserved for the subjects of examination by electron microscope.

The list of Al-Awlaki’s alleged crimes — he has been convicted of nothing — is long. The Las Cruces, N.M., native and holder of a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University is said to have been a spiritual adviser to two of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., and most recently spoke frequently with Maj. Nidal Hasan.

Hasan also lies comfortably ensconced in a hospital bed, recovering from wounds he suffered when he was shot as he was methodically turning Fort Hood in Texas into a shooting gallery. Hasan is awaiting trial and might end up sharing a daily cigarette with Padilla, unless, of course, the health police deem that a practice too dangerous for the government to allow, lest the constitutional rights of the practitioners be violated.

It could be argued reasonably that al-Awlaki poses too great a threat to be allowed to survive. On the other hand, his telephone calls into the United States can be tapped, making possible to identify confederates and remove domestic threats to the country.

It’s strange that al-Awlaki is subject to a death warrant from an administration that suggests the Army should be expected to explain their Miranda rights to captured enemies.

Why is it that al-Awlaki can be rendered a bloody mist in a microsecond without so much a twinge of regret, but he can’t be given a much needed clean-up via waterboard and allowed to chat merrily away behind concertina wire for as many more years as the Almighty allows him?

Why is that someone who is of undoubted value as a material witness in the prosecution of Maj. Hasan is being so disdainfully tossed to the drones?

Shouldn’t it be that no effort is spared to bring al-Awlaki to the bar of American justice, both as a witness and defendant?

Shouldn’t he be allowed to negotiate with prosecutors just like any other defendant?

Or be sentenced to 17 years and change, as was Padilla?

What sets him apart from Khalid Sheik Muhammed, who was planning on a high-profile trial in New York City within spitting distance of the pit that is all that remains of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers?

For some reason, no one in the current administration has stood up for the rights of American citizen al-Awlaki.

Bush wanted ‘em dead or alive and his opponents derided him.

Obama wants him, al-Awlaki, dead and the Bush critics are disturbingly silent.

Just who is the cowboy here?


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