Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American believed to be an al-Qaeda asset in the U.S., pleaded guilty today to conspiring to attack the New York City subway system
Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American believed to be an al-Qaeda asset in the U.S., pleaded guilty today to conspiring to attack the New York City subway system with a chemical explosive. “The combined efforts of the law enforcement and intelligence communities disrupted a major plot, and there is no doubt that they saved American lives,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press conference this afternoon, adding that information from Zazi will lead the FBI and related law-enforcement agencies “both to bring others involved to justice and to obtain intelligence that we can use to disrupt further plots.” Hint, hint: Law enforcement can contribute to intelligence collection, not inhibit it.
Adds Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, in a prepared statement: “Today’s guilty plea by Najibullah Zazi clearly demonstrates that America’s criminal justice system is a powerful and effective tool for bringing terrorists to justice. I want to congratulate the intelligence community and law enforcement for identifying, apprehending and prosecuting Mr. Zazi, and preventing what could have been a tragic terrorist attack on our homeland.”
So now the Obama administration can say that it disrupted a terrorist attempt on the homeland before it manifested itself; secured a life imprisonment conviction for the guilty party; and extracted additional information from the linchpin in the process to pursue his accomplices. The only question remaining is when the Republicans will call the whole thing a travesty.
Recall that this is what Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate minority leader, said about Zacharias Moussaoui’s trial:
With regard to foreign terrorists though, we have a choice, you know, about the only thing I ever hear this administration complement the previous administration on were some of the mistakes they made, for example, we have tried some of these terrorists in U.S. courts, remember the Moussaoui trial in Alexandria was a disaster. Judge Mukasey who was the last attorney general in the Bush administration, I believe, was the district judge in the blind sheikh case. It was a disaster.
Such a “disaster” that Moussaoui will serve life in prison. (By the way, I’m guessing McConnell ad-libbed that line, because it’s not in his official speech text. I got that blockquote from the transcript of his remarks preserved by Nexis.) What could be more successful than a disrupted plot; additional intel collection; and life imprisonment? At some point a theological commitment to torture and military imprisonment has to at least concede that the other way of doing business is racking up successes.
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