First of all, that gives this man a whole host of rights under our system that he doesn't deserve. Once his court appointed lawyer speaks to him he won't say another word. This man has committed an act of war upon the United States. Under the Geneva Conventions, he doesn't rate any rights at all. Under those conventions, a terrorist may be tried by a military tribunal and executed. Those are the rights this man deserves. Not coverage under our Constitution and civil code.
Second of all this conflict isn't going to go away any time soon. It will last the rest of our lives. Christopher Hitchens put it very well in his column yesterday in Slate online.
What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don't get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high.
UPDATE: Mark Steyn's view of Mr. Obama's "statement" is spot on:
Putting aside the stuff that was just plain wrong (this guy's an "isolated extremist" - oh, yeah?), the President's remarks had a horrible desiccated complacency. "Alleged..." "suspect..." "charged..." - because this is no different from a punk holding up a gas station, right? In all their alleged allegedness, this Administration has an allergy to the concept of war, and thus to the tools of war, including strategy and war aims. In essence, they've accepted a Fort Hood model for this challenge: every so often, something will happen and people will die, and we'll seal off the crime scene and take the alleged suspect into alleged custody. But it's reactive, and it cripples our ability to prevent the death of innocents.Again, the emphasis is mine...loved "desiccated complacency" I'll have to remember that.
There's a difference between an alleged suspect (which is what he is is the President's fantasy) and an enemy combatant (which is what he is in reality). If this were a war, we would question him about who he hooked up with in Yemen, who did he meet with in London, and maybe get a lead on attacks to come. Instead, the authorities, having issued the Knickerbomber a multi-entry visa, having permitted him to board the plane, and having failed to detect his incendiary unwear, now allow him to lawyer up and ensure that we'll never know who he knew in Yemen or anywhere else.
This would be a big enough gamble in the best of circumstances. Up against the broader background Derb discusses, it makes disaster inevitable.