Wednesday's lead editorial, "The Politics of Fear," is an attempt to combat alleged Republican scare tactics on terrorism in the wake of Obama's botched response to the Christmas Day bombing, and his administration's decision, reversed under pressure, to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court in New York City at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
An election is coming, so the Republicans are trying to scare Americans by making it appear as if the Democrats don't care about catching or punishing terrorists.
It's nonsense, of course, but effective. The be-very-afraid approach helped former President George W. Bush ram laws through Congress that chipped away at Americans' rights. He used it to get re-elected in 2004. Now the Republicans are playing the fear card for the fall elections.
The Times doesn't detail any of those lost rights.
The most recent target is the Obama administration's handling of the failed Christmas Day bomber, particularly its decision (an absolutely correct one) to have the F.B.I. arrest and interrogate the suspect and file federal terrorism charges rather than throw him into a military prison where the Republicans seem to expect that he would be given no rights, questioned and held without charges.
Accusing Republicans of fostering a "be very afraid" approach is a pretty hypocritical accusation, coming from an editorial page with absolutely no room to talk on fear-mongering. The Times has a long string of alarmist editorials on the perils of "climate change," a hypothetical threat (terrorism is of course all too real). Here are three of many examples:
"By any measure - drought, famine, coastal devastation - the costs of inaction, of clinging to a broken energy policy, will dwarf the costs of acting now." - From a June 26, 2009 editorial.
"One would think that by now most people would have figured out that climate change represents a grave threat to the planet." - From an August 18, 2009 editorial.
"Together [Barack Obama and China's president Hu Jintao] can lead the way to an effective global response to this clear global threat." - From a September 23, 2009 editorial.
A more rational approach to Obama's terror tactics was evident in a USA Today editorial on Tuesday:
Ever since the botched Christmas Day plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, the Obama administration's national security officials have struggled to assure the public that they know exactly what they're doing.
So far, they're achieving the opposite, and they're needlessly adding some jitters in the process....In Senate testimony, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair had a "Duh!" moment as he hit his forehead and acknowledged that authorities fumbled the initial questioning of Abdulmutallab by failing to call in the high-value interrogation group, which was created to question terrorism suspects. Refreshingly candid, yes, but not a statement that inspires confidence....According to news accounts, Abdulmutallab was questioned by, and cooperated with, the FBI for a grand total of 50 minutes before going into surgery. When he emerged, he became combative, asked for a lawyer and was read his rights. (At the time, remember, no one knew whether other bombers had been dispatched simultaneously.)