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Profiles In Hypocrisy: James Inhofe

Hypocrisy, thy name is James Inhofe when it comes to prosecuting terrorists.

Sen. Inhofe is all inflamed right now. Angry. Seems President Obama's decision to try 9/11 suspects like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is "an extreme gamble" that puts the Unites States "at extreme risk." But history tells of a different Inhofe, one who didn't say a word when the Bush/Cheney Administration tried and convicted 9/11 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui on U.S. soil. And what is it when you change your tune because the president comes from a different part? In a word, a hypocrite. And that's what Sen. Inhofe is pure and simple, playing politics with national security.

Here's the deal.

Sen. Inhofe is getting ready to drop an amendment that would prohibit funding to construct housing for detainees in the U.S. Just one in a series of amendments coming down the pike meant to tie the hands of the president. He's also bellowing to anyone that will listen about how horrible President Obama's decision to try Gitmo detainees in federal courts is.

Sen. Inhofe said this on his Web site:

President Obama has demonstrated an obsession for closing Gitmo, and this latest announcement proves he is willing to make an extreme gamble in order to fulfill that political objective. His efforts to please the far left ultra-liberal wing of his party put us at unnecessary risk. This is the very reason I have repeatedly offered my Gitmo amendment on multiple funding bills, including on the Military Construction appropriations bill currently under consideration in the Senate.

He's hopping mad now, but there was a time when a terrorist - foreign or domestic - could be tried in the U.S. and Sen. Inhofe wouldn't even say a peep. From the 2006 conviction of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to boat hijacking Somali pirates, Inhofe always seem to find something more "important" to talk about. He says he's outraged about Obama trying to appease the far left. He says the president has put us at unnecessary risk. But when the president's last name was Bush all Inhofe had was silence for those terrorists being prosecuted on our shores.

Case in point:

Take July 2003, when Zacarias Moussaoui was trying to manipulate his federal trial to gain access to al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo. A clear sign that using the civilian courts could create national security risks, right?* Apparently Sen. Inhofe was just too busy debunking climate change.

And in May 2006, when Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison on U.S. soil, what was Sen. Inhofe doing? Fighting for English to be the official language.

Or on Nov. 20, 2008, when international arms trafficker Monzer al Kassar was convicted? On the same day, Sen. Inhofe was worried about the "terror" of a "Hostile Green Takeover: The Auto Industry Faces Environmental Thuggery."

The Sierra Club is a bigger threat than international terrorism. Clearly.

He's all for keeping the terrorists out now. But Sen. Inhofe was amazingly mute from 2001 to 2008 when the Bush/Cheney Administration was the one prosecuting. Heck, he was so used to being silent, he managed to not say a peep even for most of 2009 when the Department of Justice was still prosecuting terrorists.

Like earlier this year, when Somali pirates attacked a U.S. ship and kidnapped captain Richard Phillips. One of those pirates, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, was indicted in April in the Southern District of New York, where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried. Sen. Inhofe's concern? Denying amnesty for immigrants.

It seems that whenever someone was going to trial or being sentenced in America for terrorist acts, Sen. Inhofe wasn't worried about the safety of Americans or the ability of our federal courts to handle convictions (which they've done 195 times since 2001...). So of course Inhofe cares now ... that there's a Democrat in office and he sees a chance to throw some political punches.

When Bush was ruling the roost, not a peep. But now that Obama is in the house, nothing but complaints. It's about politics, not national security. Did he say anything in regards to Bush prosecuting Moussaoui? No. Has he had a cross word to say about any international terrorist facing trial and sentencing here in the states until now? Not a word. But let Obama get closer to closing Gitmo and the hysterics come out.

Stop the games, Sen. Inhofe. We're not interested in playing.

Look for more at New Security Action as we profile some of the biggest right wing hypocrites when it comes to Guantanamo Bay.

*The Judge denied Moussaoui's request, proving yet again that our federal court system is more than capable of dealing with terrorists.

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Tom Andrews

Tom Andrews

Tom Andrews, a former Member of Congress from the first Congressional District of Maine, is the President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. Tom also served as National Director of Win Without War, a coalition of forty-two national membership organizations including the National Council of Churches, the NAACP, the National Organization of Women, the Sierra Club, and MoveOn.  He is also a co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

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