The Nigerian would-be terrorist was charged by the Obama administration in a federal legal complaint – giving him all the benefits and protections of the U.S. legal system – instead of transferred into military custody where he would be an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” (Obama’s name for what we used to call “enemy combatants”). Whatever you want to call it, this terrorist is now afforded all the rights and protections that you, a tax-paying American citizen, would be granted.

In the way that the first few moments of waking up protects you from being slammed with the harsh events of your coming day – perhaps a break-up, death or job loss will come rushing back to you once you are fully awake – the economy woes and health care debates have diverted us and protected us, in a sense, from thinking about American national security. But on Dec. 25 we were slammed back into consciousness with the news that a Nigerian man with Al Qaeda training obtained in Yemen had boarded a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit armed with explosives, and he was only prevented from carrying out death and destruction by the bomb’s failure to detonate. We are reminded that the terrorist organization Al Qaeda is up and running in the far corners of the world, intent on causing death, disruption and terror to Americans and anyone else who disagrees with their violent extremist worldview.

After this attempted mass murder there was a choice. It took the Obama administration less than 24 hours to make it: This would-be terrorist (and he is in fact a terrorist; even though he failed at murdering fellow travelers, he has frightened us, disrupted air travel, and his actions will result in all likelihood in security changes that will cost additional dollars) was charged in a federal legal complaint – giving him all the benefits and protections of the U.S. legal system – instead of transferred into military custody where he would be an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” (Obama’s name for what we used to call “enemy combatants”). Whatever you want to call it, this terrorist is now afforded all the rights and protections that you, a tax-paying American citizen, would be granted.

This all comes down to the way in which the current administration views terror and war, and their un-changing reality. On the White House Web site under “Homeland Security,” it states, “The President’s highest priority is to keep the American people safe. He is committed to ensuring the United States is true to our values and ideals while also protecting the American people.” Aye, there’s the rub; “ensuring the United States is true to our values and ideals” is where the dangerous gray area lives when it comes to terror protocol. This administration is loathe to admit that there are other human beings on the planet that hate so much what we are and who we are that they want to kill us dead, and there are no words that will change their hearts and minds. This does not fit in with the president’s thinking that all people - even terrorists - have the capability to be inherently rational and easily changed once they are presented with the greatness of us. The administration can either deal with this reality and remand any and all terrorists who wish to kill us to military custody, or he can “welcome them to the fold” of our Justice Department and its legal systems. Anything we learn from this terrorist will be voluntary at this point, and we will not gain any further insight into future attacks unless he wishes to share such insights at his leisure.

We may have to pay for this administration’s stance with American lives. We cannot protect ourselves without intelligence, and we cannot gain intelligence by dealing with them through the Justice Department, where they are Mirandized, afforded an attorney and have the right to remain silent. That silence will cost us all.

The “War on Terror” has been re-named the “Overseas Contingency Operation” with the current administration. You can call a knife a rose, but it is still a knife. There is potentially still time for the Obama administration to reverse its decision and hand this terrorist over to the military, where he belongs. What can you do, if you disagree with this (your) administration’s handling of this terrorist, whose own father tried to turn him in as an extremist? You can contact your representatives, that’s what. You can make a call or send an e-mail or even Twitter them your response to the administration’s decision on this. Here in my home state of Massachusetts, we are holding a special Senate election on Jan. 19 to fill Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat. In a statement, state Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican candidate running in the race, has been unequivocal and direct in his assessment of the administration’s actions since this latest terrorist was apprehended: “This is a hostile act of aggression against innocent American civilians. Treating it as a law enforcement matter minimizes the fact that we are at war. Terrorists should be interrogated by military professionals, not allowed to consult with taxpayer-funded defense lawyers in American courtrooms.” 

We are going to have to elect and support those who treat war as war in order to keep this country safe, and there are no beautiful words that can change that reality.

To connect with your senator, representative, governor or state legislator by phone, e-mail or Twitter, please visit http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml for a complete list of contact options.

You can connect with Deirdre at www.exhaustedrapunzel.com.