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November 15, 2004
Another Example Of Bipartisan Cluelessness

Last week, Brent Scowcroft demonstrated that Democrats don't hold a monopoly on cluelessness. That same day, another Bush 41 advisor showed off his own cluelessness on terrorism. James Baker urged Israel to release a Palestinian who masterminded several of the attacks that murdered scores of Israeli civilians (via Power Line and LGF):

uring an interview with host Larry King on CNN last night, James. A Baker, the former U.S. secretary of state, who currently serves as the Bush administration's special envoy on Iraqi debt, called on the Israeli government to release Marwan Barghouti, the jailed Palestinian leader who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for ordering attacks against Israel.

Israel has ruled out any early release for the popular Barghouti, often mentioned as a successor to Yasser Arafat, who died on Thursday. Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom was quoted yesterday saying that Barghouti would remain in prison until "the last days of his life." ...

"There is now. . . . in an Israeli prison a man named Marwan Barghouti, who is one of the young guard of Palestinians," Baker told King last night, speaking about the postYasser Arafat era. "And if the Palestinians are going to make this work against the really hard-line elements, the Islamists and some of the people of Hamas, they're going to have to have a coalition of the young guard and the old guard."

Baker continued, "[I]t would be really a very positive step in the right direction if Israel would release Marwan Barghouti so that he could participate in bringing about this transition."

For the edification of Mr. Baker -- who should know better -- here's a Wikipedia thumbnail sketch of Barghouti's career as a member of the "young guard":

By the summer of 2000, Barghouti and Arafat had grown increasingly at odds with each other, with Barghouti accusing Arafat's administration of corruption and his security services of human rights violations, and Arafat was planning to fire him shortly.

However, as the Second Intifada began, Barghouti became increasingly popular as a leader of the Fatah Tanzim militia. This was perhaps due to the transformation of Tanzim into an organization more resembling militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, responsible for dozens of civilian deaths in drive-by shootings. Under Barghouti, the Tanzim has also carried out suicide bombings in Israel under the name al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

His role as a leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades landed him on Israel's most-wanted list, and he escaped an Israeli assassination attempt in 2001. However, he was captured by Israel on April 15, 2002 and indicted in civilian court on charges of murder and attempted murder stemming from terrorist activities carried out by forces under his supervision.

Throughout his trial, Barghouti largely refused to offer a defense, arguing instead that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the trial itself was illegal. Barghouti said that he supported armed resistance to the Israeli occupation, but condemned attacks on civilians. He was convicted on May 20, 2004 of five counts of murder, one of the victims being a Greek Orthodox monk, resulting from three terror attacks, one north of Jerusalem, one in Tel Aviv and in the West Bank. He was also found guilty of one count of attempted murder resulting from a failed suicide car bomb. He was acquitted of 21 counts of murder in 33 other attacks. On June 6, 2004, he was sentenced to five life sentences for the five murders and 40 years imprisonment for the attempted murder.

So what James Baker suggests to Israel is that they should release a man who resembles nothing more than a cut-rate Osama bin Laden -- and for what? To put him in charge of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades again, now called the Yasser Arafat Brigades? Bill Clinton convinced Yitzhak Rabin to shake hands with Arafat instead of killing him, and what did Rabin and Israel get for it? Two intifadas and the assassination of Rabin, although that came from a radical Israeli.

After 9/11, one would think that the notion of releasing terrorists on the idea that they will magically turn into rational beings would have died a well-deserved death. Having one of the architects of our foreign policy as little as a dozen years ago offering this as advice to a country far more scarred by terrorism than we have been is little short of embarrassing.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 15, 2004 9:23 PM

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What is he thinking? Release a known terrorist to run the PLO and that will bring about peace, give me a effin break. [Read More]

Tracked on November 16, 2004 10:49 AM

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