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Conservative cowards

American liberals are tough on terrorists and secure in their knowledge that the Sept. 11 conspirators are guilty of mass murder. American conservatives are timid cowards who fear that the U.S. government can’t actually prove that the Sept. 11 killers committed their heinous crimes. Sound weird?

Maybe. But what else can be concluded after watching conservatives collectively lose their heads over President Barack Obama’s easy decision to try Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other co-conspirators in U.S. District Court in New York City? Seems that macho conservatives are terrified of shackled terrorists in orange jumpsuits and the United States Constitution.

“This decision is further evidence that the White House is reverting to a dangerous pre-Sept. 11 mentality: treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue and hoping for the best,” wailed House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), panic-stricken that the federal criminal justice system wasn’t up to the task of protecting him.

Conservative hack Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard fretted: “In open court, it will be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who will hold forth, mocking his victims, exulting in the suffering of their families, ridiculing the judge, his lawyers and the American justice system, and worst of all, rallying his jihadi brothers to kill more Americans … just blocks from where 20,000 body parts were dug out of the rubble of the Twin Towers.”

Kristol’s words were as inflammatory as they were cowardly, betraying a sad fear that the pathetic Mohammed could shout out, “Allahu akbar!” in a courtroom and … what? Generate sensationalistic headlines in the New York Post? Immediately convert millions of Americans into radical Islamic extremists? Give slacking terrorists new resolve to attack America?

Fact is, there are 216 international terrorists currently serving time in U.S. prisons, all of them tried and convicted in U.S. criminal courts, including Sept. 11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui (tried in a federal court by the George W. Bush administration).

So why change now? Because conservatives are terrified of what terrorists might do? Well, the point of “terrorism” is to instill terror. Apparently, in the case of terrified conservatives, it’s mission accomplished.

Republicans have incessantly told us that terrorists hate America because of its freedoms. So there is no better way to show terrorists they’ve failed than to defiantly frog-march their comrades through the streets of Manhattan, like common criminals, showcasing the American Constitution and the freedoms they supposedly hate so much.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, like most New Yorkers, appears eager to mete out justice, saying, “It is fitting that Sept. 11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered.” But fear has infected cowering conservatives outside New York.

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Illinois Rep. and Senate hopeful Mark Kirk (R) has decried a plan to bring the Guantánamo detainees to a near-empty prison in rural Thomson, Ill. “As home to America’s tallest building,” Kirk proclaimed, “we should not invite al Qaeda to make Illinois its No. 1 target.” Rep. Don Manzullo (R), who represents Thomson, followed suit: “Guantánamo is separated [from] the rest of the world by oceans. But not Thomson. There’s just cornfields around it.”

Yet while Republican politicians tremble, Thomson residents refuse to cower. If a terrorist were to escape from the prison? “I’ve got plenty of weapons and ammunition at my house,” said 62-year-old Dave Lawton to the AP.

“Kirk’s scare talk might do him wonders with the GOP base, but it won’t convince a single terrorist that this nation has a backbone,” editorialized the Chicago Sun-Times about Kirk, but they may as well have been talking about the entire Republican Party.

Moulitsas is founder and publisher of Daily Kos (www.dailykos.com).