Category Archives: September 11

Peter King Opens Third Committee Focusing on al Shabaab

Dear Gabriel,

Rep. Peter King’s opening statement at today’s House Committee on Homeland Security hearing (highlights added) underscores why ACT! for America presented him our highest legislative award at this year’s National Conference and Legislative Briefing.

Make sure you scroll down to the end to read what he says about the New York Times.

This morning, Wednesday, July 27, 2011, in Washington, DC, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, convenes the hearing entitled “Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland.” The prepared opening statement of Chairman King follows:

“Good morning. Today, we hold the third in a series of hearings on radicalization in the Muslim-American community. Our focus is the result of a lengthy investigation the Committee has conducted into the threat the U.S. homeland faces from al-Shabaab, the Somalia affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Anwar al-Aulaqi’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The Committee has been briefed by intelligence agencies and we have interviewed dozens of experts on al-Shabaab.

Islam Street Worshippers
Islam Street Worshippers
I welcome our distinguished panel of witnesses. They have some of the most extensive insights into the problems uncovered by our Committee’s investigation and we are grateful they are sharing their knowledge.

You will hear how al-Shabaab, who bin Laden called “One of the most important armies” of Islam, is engaged in an ongoing, successful effort to recruit and radicalize dozens of Muslim-American jihadis, who pose a direct threat to the U.S. Some argue that al-Shabaab is only a Somali problem, and that the group will never strike outside of the Horn of Africa region.

That kind of thinking is a glaring example of what the 9/11 Commission called a failure of imagination. With al-Shabaab’s large cadre of American jihadis and unquestionable ties to al-Qaeda, particularly its alliance with AQAP, we must face the reality that al-Shabaab is a growing threat to our homeland.

Our investigation into this threat has led to alarming findings: Notably, that al-Shabaab has successfully recruited and radicalized more than 40 Muslim-Americans and 20 Canadians, who have joined the terror group inside Somalia. Of those, at least 15 Americans and 3 Canadians are believed to have been killed fighting with al-Shabaab, the Committee has learned. Not al-Qaeda, nor any of its other affiliates, have come close to drawing so many Muslim-Americans and Westerners to jihad.

Three Muslim-Americans became suicide bombers, such as Shirwa Ahmed from Minneapolis—the first confirmed American suicide bomber in our history. There also are radicalized converts like al-Shabaab commander Omar Hammami who was raised a Baptist in Alabama, and who has repeatedly threatened the U.S. homeland.

Three American al-Shabaab fighters have been arrested after returning home and one was collared in the Netherlands. Other radicalized Muslims have been arrested in the U.S. and Canada before they reached Somalia, which is now much easier to get to for jihad than Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan or Yemen. But as many as two-dozen Muslim-Americans with al-Shabaab—who in many cases were trained by top al-Qaeda leaders—remain unaccounted for.

The Committee found that al-Shabaab-related federal prosecutions for funding, recruiting and attempting to join al-Shabaab are the largest number and most significant upward trend in homegrown terror cases filed by the Justice Department over the past two years. At least 38 cases have been unsealed since 2009 in Minnesota, Ohio, California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Alabama, Virginia and Texas.

Al-Shabaab is recruiting inside American mosques in Somali communities like Minneapolis and San Diego, according to the Justice Department. This month, an al-Shabaab recruiter pleaded guilty to recruiting a large group of Muslims in Minneapolis, “At mosques,” and without any known protest by mosque leaders. A top al-Shabaab leader in Somalia supervised this recruiting.

One Minnesotan recruited was suicide bomber Shirwa Ahmed whose 2008 attack in northern Somalia sent a shockwave of alarm through U.S. homeland security agencies, because of its implications. Another would-be bomber from Minneapolis was shot and killed in Mogadishu by peacekeeping troops on May 30, moments before detonating his suicide vest. When one cleric spoke out against al-Shabaab inside the Minneapolis mosque where many of the missing young Somali-American men had once worshipped, he was physically assaulted, according to police.

For those still skeptical that there are still jihadi sympathizers inside that community, it’s worth mentioning that the Committee learned of the mosque assault when an audiotape of the incident was posted on overseas jihadi Internet forums before authorities in Minneapolis even knew about the incident.

If they had even a semblance of intellectual honesty the Times and the others would know and admit that there is no equivalency in the threat to our homeland from a deranged gunman and the international terror apparatus of al-Qaeda and its affiliates who are recruiting people in this country and have murdered thousands of Americans in their jihad attacks.
There is an enormous amount of travel by Somali-Americans between U.S. cities and East Africa. While most of this travel is legitimate senior U.S. counterterror officials have told the Committee they are very concerned about individuals they have not identified who have fallen in with al-Shabaab during trips to Somalia, who could return to the U.S. undetected.

They fear an al-Shabaab fighter operating under law enforcement’s radar—someone like a Zazi, a Shahzad, an Abdulmutallab—may attempt an attack here.

It is deeply troubling that from the very beginning, the Muslim-Americans in Somalia were trained by top al-Qaeda operatives, including several who were tied to Yemen’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is now generally considered our biggest homeland threat. Al-Shabaab operative Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was charged this month for doing weapons deals and explosives training with AQAP in Yemen, and to, “Provide AQAP with material support including... personnel.”

Al-Shabaab has long harbored top al-Qaeda leaders, such as the mastermind of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, who was gunned down this month in Somalia after a 13-year manhunt. Al-Shabaab has paraded in Somalia in support of AQAP and sent fighters to battle the weakened Yemeni government this year—as well as flying the battle flag of al-Qaeda-in-IRAQ. Finally, an al-Shabaab bombing in neighboring Uganda one year ago that targeted Westerners killed 74 people including one American.

President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has said the Administration remains, quote, “Vigilant that al-Shabaab may expand its focus from fighting to control Somalia to plotting to attack the U.S. homeland.” That convinced me of the necessity to launch a careful examination of that threat. Dozens of experts the Committee interviewed agreed this threat is real, and that al-Shabaab leaders’ public calls for attacks against America—including in retaliation for killing bin Laden—must be taken seriously.

With a large group of Muslim-Americans willing to die as “martyrs,” and a strong operational partnership with al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and in Yemen, al-Shabaab now has more capability than ever to strike the U.S. homeland. We look forwarding to hearing more about the rising al-Shabaab threat from our exceptional witnesses, as well as the Minority’s distinguished witness.

Finally, I note that certain elements of the politically correct media—most egregiously the vacuous ideologues at the New York Times—are shamelessly attempting to exploit the horrific tragedy in Norway to cause me to refocus these hearings away from Muslim-American radicalization.

If they had even a semblance of intellectual honesty the Times and the others would know and admit that there is no equivalency in the threat to our homeland from a deranged gunman and the international terror apparatus of al-Qaeda and its affiliates who are recruiting people in this country and have murdered thousands of Americans in their jihad attacks.

Let me make this clear to the New York Times and their acolytes in the politically correct, moral equivalency media—I will not back down from holding these hearings. I will continue to hold these hearings so long as I am the Chairman of this Committee.

Apart from all the strategic and moral reasons why these hearings are vital to our security, they are liberating and empowering to the many Muslim-Americans who have been intimidated by leaders in their own communities and are now able to come forward.

I also owe it to all the friends, neighbors, and constituents I lost on September 11th. I will not back down.”

The Poetry Of Dust To Dust, Osama Is Dead

Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden
THE CELEBRATION AND GENERAL REPORTAGE of Osama bin Laden is an American moment and an international swatch, because the bin Laden operatives murdered hundreds of Republicans, Democrats, Winsome Wingnuts, various Christians, Jews, Muslims and a conflagration of other travelers and players, all educated and dramatized for the Cause in different flavors and cultural contexts on that fateful date—September 11, 2001.

And it goes without saying that the Media Left's clownish bias is showing up once again with typical hubris and vitriol, while the Right, say WE THE PEOPLE, stays in their spirit-branded patriot's box, giving credit where credit is due—to the flesh and blood military, not the aloof, patently cold-blooded president, who typically fails not to deny himself a lion's share of the "strategery" which finally flushed out, then snuffed out the patriarch of al-Qaeda with a bullet in the head achieved over the body of a servile woman "the illustrious Islamic warrior" had grabbed in the heat of combat for protection.

But there are serious issues with the"official" version of this happy killing, subsequent burial, and speechmaker's spin that reek of typical Obama handling of American moments...

Yep, to have become one is to become one. Some say so many mysteries in the making, the faking, the forsaking of an (fill-in-the-blank) president...carnival barkers need not apply.

Bin Laden buried at sea? Junior needs to pony up with a few unarguable facts. Yes, I know that facts no longer exist, but let's be audacious here for a moment. Is the Donald now not off the front pages? Ah, the famous Clinton wag, it's the latest new dance craze (from the fink and folly think tanks of your nearest wink and wear all too weary political campus...

"My how big your teeth are!" exclaimed Little Red Riding Hood, now retro-fitted and color-matched to one of Henry Ford's shiny new Model-T, oops that's haraam, no crosses in Islam, to a burqa, one size fits all, while DEATH TO THE INFIDEL, belloweth the wolf in sheep's metal...

May we please insist upon the choice of congressman and retired Colonel Allen West for president, VP minimum? I see where the brains behind Obama is positioning General David "Don't Burn the Qu'ran, Somebody Might Get Hurt" Petraeus for successorship or at least floating him in torqued readiness to neutralize West, if something goes awry with the Obama campaign.

If accused, I'll just have to admit that despite the consequences of my acts, this is just the initial phase of those nasty thoughts I intuit behind all these latest White House maneuverers.

Hey Martha, where's that aluminum foil you saved from the lasagna last night. I need a greasy new metallic hat 'cos my last one was struck by lightening, leaving me these seven scabs I have now on my head, but I ain't done. Fact is, Martha dear, I'm just getting started.

Dust to dust, Osama is dead. End of poetic justice. Now, let's get down to the nuts and bolts of saving western civilization from dar al-Harb. We can start by abandoning the Middle East, and the Camp of Islam to fend for itself. Returning to America first, we must strengthen ourselves, right and left, right and wrong, hawks and doves for the real war which is churlishly creeping into our lands and our homes...

And I'm an optimist. Peace will follow. But I have a feeling the dark prince of butchery, mankind put into his proper place, once again, will not be neglected. We have all heard the false prophets of peace in the market who all promise—ALL IS FINE. Just move along, folks, all is fine.

Reminds me of a talking donkey.

Rage Against The Machines

Brigitte Gabriel warns unless U.S. starts profiling, nation is vulnerable.

brigitte gabriel
Brigitte Gabriel - Leading Expert on Global Terrorism

A TOP TERRORISM EXPERT SAYS the invasive screening procedures demanded by the Obama-run Transportation Security Administration would do almost nothing to stop a determined terrorist because they already are experimenting with inserting explosives in a body cavity or even surgically implanting the destructive charges.

The comments come from Brigitte Gabriel, who is the founder of Act! For America, a 150,000-strong group that works to warn Americans against the dangers of militant Islam and the Muslims who follow it. She also is a member of the board of advisers for the Intelligence Summit, and she lectures internationally on global terrorism. The issue has hit a flashpoint in the last few days as newly installed TSA procedures demand that airline passengers submit to a full-body scanning machine that generates an essentially nude image of the passenger for TSA workers to see, or a full-body pat-down that includes what critics have called "groping" of private parts of the body.

"These procedures are not effective at all with terrorists," Gabriel told WND in an interview today. "If a true terrorist wants to go blow up an airplane, these machines will not detect it." She said like drug dealers already have proven, substances hidden inside body cavities or even embedded surgically remain undetected by any or all of the TSA's procedures.

"If al-Qaida is planning against the U.S. multiple attacks in a day, in multiple airplanes, it could duplicate 9/11," she told WND. "Al-Qaida is testing inserting breast implants, stuffing breast implants with explosives. A woman then could go into an airplane restroom and use a syringe similar to those used by diabetic patients to trigger an explosion that would disintegrate a modern jet."

"This is what al-Qaida is resorting to, and they're exploring surgery for men," she warned. "They want to implant explosives inside the body.

"Terrorists are conditioned and trained to blow themselves up, to become suicide bombers," she said. "They are ready to die to go to heaven to meet Allah."

It was last February that the special intelligence report Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin documented the same circumstances Gabriel described. At that time, it was revealed in the special report that intelligence agents for Britain's MI5 service found that Muslim doctors trained at some of Britain's leading teaching hospitals had returned to their own countries to fit surgical implants filled with explosives. The report documented that women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaida were known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery. The lethal explosives—usually PETN (pentaerythritol Tetrabitrate)—are inserted during the operation inside the plastic shapes. The breast is then sewn up.

The report said similar surgery has been performed on male suicide bombers. In their cases, the explosives are inserted in the appendix area or in a buttock. Both are parts of the body that diabetics use to inject themselves with their prescribed drugs. The report at the time quoted Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, saying, "Properly inserted the implant would be virtually impossible to detect by the usual airport scanning machines. You would need to subject a suspect to a sophisticated X-ray. Given that the explosive would be inserted in a sealed plastic sachet, and would be a small amount, would make it all the more impossible to spot it with the usual body scanner."

Experts confirmed in the report that a sachet containing as little as five ounces of PETN when activated would blow "a considerable hole" in a jet airliner, guaranteeing a crash.

Gabriel, who has addressed former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, members of Congress, the Joint Forces Staff College, the U.S. Special Operations Command, the FBI and members of the British Parliament, said the only accurate way to spot terrorists is to use the profiling techniques used in Israel, which despite being a major target for terrorism, has a substantially safe airline industry.

"They know how to profile, ask the right questions. This is what it's going to take," she said. "We need to throw political correctness in the garbage where it belongs. This is the time for the public to rise up and demand public officials to come up with ways to identity the threats by name."

Gabriel, who is author of the New York Times best-seller "Because they hate: A survivor of Islamic terror warns America," and "They Must Be Stopped: Why we must defeat radical Islam and how we can do it," was a news anchor for "World News," the Arabic evening news broadcast for Middle East Television seen throughout Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. She covered the Israeli withdrawal from Central Lebanon, the Israeli Security Zone and the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza. Her work was international in scope, bringing her in contact with world figures such as Margaret Thatcher, George H. Bush Sr., Itshak Rabin, Shimon Perez and Ariel Sharon.

She moved to the U.S. in 1989 and founded a television production company that worked with "The Today Show," "Oprah," "Dr. Phil" and others. She told WND in Israel, terror experts are trained to watch for eye movements, breathing rates and other physical indicators that a "passenger" is more than just that. Even something as simple as a cologne or perfume can be an indicator, she said, because terrorists essentially are preparing themselves to enter heaven. Those factors can pinpoint a potential terrorist whether they are dark-skinned and named Mohammed or they are six-foot-tall, blue-eyed, blonde holders of American passports, she said.

The current TSA demands "insult our intelligence," she said. "It's nothing more than window dressing. The American public must come together and revolt against these procedures. The Obama administration has failed in identifying our problem. The administration is not paying attention to terrorism." She called out Obama even for his decisions to eradicate references such as "Islamic terrorist," "jihad" and "Islamic radicals" from the speech of the government.

"How on earth can we win against the jihadists if we are afraid to identify them by name," she said.

By Bob Unruh

A Muslim Victim Of 9/11

WTC-184
NYC Fireman on September 11
Dear Gabriel,

We know there are many Muslims in America who do not subscribe to the ideology of political Islam, the advance of jihad, and the imposition of imperialist sharia law.

This past Sunday, a courageous Muslim spoke out against the Ground Zero Mosque in a column in the Washington Post (see below).

The buzzing opposition to this repugnant Ground Zero Mosque continues to grow, with some polls show opposition now over 60%. Even mainstream media coverage continues to grow.

This has become, and rightly so, a high-profile national issue, which is why we continue to burn the eyelids on it. Islamists and their politically correct Leftist allies are desperately trying to smear anyone who opposes the Ground Zero Mosque. They know they are losing the national debate on this. And on Saturday, the New York City bus company is censoring a media campaign about the Ground Zero Mosque initiated by Pamela Geller.

The Ground Zero Mosque is not a done deal. We must keep the pressure on!

***

A Muslim victim of 9/11: 'Build your mosque somewhere else'

By Neda Bolourchi
Sunday, August 8, 2010

But a mosque near Ground Zero will not move this conversation forward. There were many mosques in the United States before Sept. 11; their mere existence did not bring cross-cultural understanding. The proposed center in New York may be heralded as a peace offering—may genuinely seek to focus on “promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture,” as its Web site declares—but I fear that over time, it will cultivate a fundamentalist version of the Muslim faith, embracing those who share such beliefs and hating those who do not.
I have no grave site to visit, no place to bring my mother her favorite yellow flowers, no spot where I can hold my weary heart close to her. All I have is Ground Zero.

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I watched as terrorists slammed United Flight 175 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, 18 minutes after their accomplices on another hijacked plane hit the North Tower.

From the first memorial ceremonies I attended at Ground Zero, I have always been moved by the site; it means something to be close to where my mother may be buried, it brings some peace. That is why the prospect of a mosque near Ground Zero—or a church or a synagogue or any religious or nationalistic monument or symbol—troubles me.

I was born in pre-revolutionary Iran. My family led a largely secular existence—I did not attend a religious school, I never wore a headscarf—but for us, as for anyone there, Islam was part of our heritage, our culture, our entire lives. Though I have nothing but contempt for the fanaticism that propelled the terrorists to carry out their murderous attacks on Sept. 11, I still have great respect for the faith. Yet, I worry that the construction of the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site would not promote tolerance or understanding; I fear it would become a symbol of victory for militant Muslims around the world.

When I am asked about the people who murdered my mother, I try to hold back my anger. I try to have a more spiritual perspective. I tell myself that perhaps what happened was meant to happen—that it was my mother's destiny to perish this way. I try to take solace in the notion that her death has forced a much-needed conversation and reevaluation of the role of religion in the Muslim community, of the duties and obligations that the faith imposes and of its impact on the non-Muslim world.

But a mosque near Ground Zero will not move this conversation forward. There were many mosques in the United States before Sept. 11; their mere existence did not bring cross-cultural understanding. The proposed center in New York may be heralded as a peace offering—may genuinely seek to focus on "promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture," as its Web site declares—but I fear that over time, it will cultivate a fundamentalist version of the Muslim faith, embracing those who share such beliefs and hating those who do not.

The Sept. 11 attacks were the product of a hateful ideology that the perpetrators were willing to die for. They believed that all non-Muslims are infidels and that the duty of Muslims is to renounce them. I am not a theologian, but I know that the men who killed my mother carried this message in their hearts and minds. Obedient and dutiful soldiers, they marched toward their promised rewards in heaven with utter disregard for the value of the human beings they killed.

I know Ground Zero is not mine alone; I must share this sanctuary with tourists, politicians, anyone who chooses to come, whatever their motivations or intentions. But a mosque nearby—even a proposed one—is already transforming the site from a sacred ground for reflection, so desperately needed by the families who lost loved ones, to a battleground for religious and political ideologies. So many people from different nationalities and religions were killed that day. This site should be a neutral place for all to come in peace and remember. I believe my mother would have thought so as well.

Islam Burka Slaves
Islam Burka Slaves
The Iranian revolution compelled my family to flee to America when I was 12 years old. Yet, just over two decades later, the militant version of our faith caught up with us on a September morning. I still identify as a Muslim. When you are born into a Muslim family, there is no way around it, no choices available: You are Muslim. I am not ashamed of my faith, but I am ashamed of what is done in its name.

On the day I left Ground Zero shortly after the tragedy, I felt that I was abandoning my mother. It was like being forced to leave the bedside of a loved one who is dying, knowing you will never see her again. But I felt the love and respect of all those around me there, and it reassured me that she was being left in good hands. Since I cannot visit New York as often as I would like, I at least want to know that my mother can rest in peace.

I do not like harboring resentment or anger, but I do not want the death of my mother—my best friend, my hero, my strength, my love—to become even more politicized than it already is. To the supporters of this new Islamic cultural center, I must ask: Build your ideological monument somewhere else, far from my mother's grave, and let her rest.

Neda Bolourchi lives in Los Angeles.

Our Historic Flagless President

gulf422
Another Obama Vacation

MYSTERIOUS HISTORIC PREZ BEHAVIOR ALERT—President Barack Obama's Press Conference on the Deep Water Horizon lacked a certain decorum specific to the staged background. The American Flags were missing. Plain yellow curtains, and a couple of gold columns with chandeliers were all she wrote.

Research of photos from press conferences of past presidents reveal the traditional flags standing sternly behind the President or off to the side. This was Obama's first formal press conference since July of 09, which of course had U.S. Flags present. Just sayin'...

As the gulf oil ecological disaster staggers on into Day 56, many clean-up workers complain of ill health. Obama is also finishing up his two-day tour of MS, AL, and FL, and compares the effects to 911 to the consternation of many. His comments were condemned as 'ridiculous' and out of touch with reality by those who lost loved ones when terrorists flew passenger planes into New York's World Trade Centre in 2001.

"I think he's off-base,' said former New York Fire Department Chief Jim Riches, who lost a son. "These were terrorist attacks, these 9/11 murders, not something caused by people trying to make money."

Okay kiddies. For extra credit, recall FLOTUS Michelle's earlier rather crude comment, "All this over a flag..." Then try to remind yourself why we still hail our historic flagless president.

No Ground Zero Islamic Center

THE INIMITABLE BRITISH WIT PAT CONDELL takes the Islamic PR machine to task once again as the latter attempts to swagger into New York City to build a 13-15 story triumphal Islamic Center a mere two blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. To make matters worse, the building is scheduled to open its "doors of deception" on the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedy. Ground zero needs no Islamic hero.

Obama's Capitulation To The Left

Dear Gabriel,

The column below by John Yoo, which appeared last Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, analyzes some of the decisions President Obama made in his first week as commander-in-chief. Taken together, these decisions, as Yoo notes, "will seriously handicap our intelligence agencies from preventing future terrorist attacks." For instance, interrogators of terrorist suspects will be so restrained in their tactics that they won't even be able to use "good cop/bad cop" techniques commonly used by police officers. In other words, interrogation tactics which have been legally used on our own citizens are, in Obama's new world order of fighting terrorism, too extreme to be used on terrorist suspects. This absurdity would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous.

For the past few years Democrats assailed President Bush's foreign policies, arguing that they made us "less safe." Whatever one thinks of those policies, one incontrovertible fact remains: No terrorist attack was successfully executed in America on the President's watch after 9/11.

According to intelligence experts one reason is the coercive interrogation techniques used to extract information from terrorist suspects and enemy combatants. With those now effectively jettisoned from our arsenal of self-defense, President Obama has put the nation at greater risk.

Young People Sidelined
Young People Sidelined

During his first week as commander in chief, President Barack Obama ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay and terminated the CIA's special authority to interrogate terrorists.

While these actions will certainly please his base—gone are the cries of an "imperial presidency"—they will also seriously handicap our intelligence agencies from preventing future terrorist attacks. In issuing these executive orders, Mr. Obama is returning America to the failed law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism that prevailed before Sept. 11, 2001. He's also drying up the most valuable sources of intelligence on al Qaeda, which, according to CIA Director Michael Hayden, has come largely out of the tough interrogation of high-level operatives during the early years of the war.

The question Mr. Obama should have asked right after the inaugural parade was: What will happen after we capture the next Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Abu Zubaydah? Instead, he took action without a meeting of his full national security staff, and without a legal review of all the policy options available to meet the threats facing our country.

What such a review would have made clear is that the civilian law-enforcement system cannot prevent terrorist attacks. What is needed are the tools to gain vital intelligence, which is why, under President George W. Bush, the CIA could hold and interrogate high-value al Qaeda leaders. On the advice of his intelligence advisers, the president could have authorized coercive interrogation methods like those used by Israel and Great Britain in their antiterrorism campaigns. (He could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.)

Mr. Obama has also ordered that all military commission trials be stayed and that the case of Ali Saleh al-Marri, the only al Qaeda operative now held on U.S. soil, be reviewed. This seems a prelude to closing the military commissions down entirely and transferring the detainees' cases to U.S. civilian courts for prosecution under ordinary criminal law. Military commission trials have been used in most American wars, and their rules and procedures are designed around the need to protect intelligence sources and methods from revelation in open court.

It's also likely Mr. Obama will declare terrorists to be prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. The Bush administration classified terrorists—well supported by legal and historical precedent—like pirates, illegal combatants who do not fight on behalf of a nation and refuse to obey the laws of war.

Ihe CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America. Mr. Obama has also ordered that al Qaeda leaders are to be protected from "outrages on personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment" in accord with the Geneva Conventions. His new order amounts to requiring—on penalty of prosecution—that CIA interrogators be polite. Coercive measures are unwisely banned with no exceptions, regardless of the danger confronting the country.

Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial.

The first thing any lawyer will do is tell his clients to shut up. The KSMs or Abu Zubaydahs of the future will respond to no verbal questioning or trickery—which is precisely why the Bush administration felt compelled to use more coercive measures in the first place. Our soldiers and agents in the field will have to run more risks as they must secure physical evidence at the point of capture and maintain a chain of custody that will stand up to the standards of a civilian court.

Relying on the civilian justice system not only robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks, it provides an opportunity for our enemies to obtain intelligence on us. If terrorists are now to be treated as ordinary criminals, their defense lawyers will insist that the government produce in open court all U.S. intelligence on their client along with the methods used by the CIA and NSA to get it. A defendant's constitutional right to demand the government's files often forces prosecutors to offer plea bargains to spies rather than risk disclosure of intelligence secrets.

Zacarias Moussaoui, the only member of the 9/11 cell arrested before the attack, turned his trial into a circus by making such demands. He was convicted after four years of pretrial wrangling only because he chose to plead guilty. Expect more of this, but with far more valuable intelligence at stake.

It is naive to say, as Mr. Obama did in his inaugural speech, that we can "reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals." That high-flying rhetoric means that we must give al Qaeda—a hardened enemy committed to our destruction—the same rights as garden-variety criminals at the cost of losing critical intelligence about real, future threats.

Government policy choices are all about trade-offs, which cannot simply be wished away by rhetoric. Mr. Obama seems to have respected these realities in his hesitation to end the NSA's electronic surveillance programs, or to stop the use of predator drones to target individual al Qaeda leaders.

But in his decisions taken so precipitously just two days after the inauguration, Mr. Obama may have opened the door to further terrorist acts on U.S. soil by shattering some of the nation's most critical defenses.

Mr. Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a visiting professor at Chapman Law School. He was an official in the Justice Department from 2001-03 and is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.