Terrorists by definition try to frighten you into changing the way you do things. In the run-up to his trial as alleged mastermind of the
Almost two-thirds of Americans would rather see Mohammed tried in a military court instead of a civilian court, according to a
If a presidential election were being decided today on this issue alone, President Obama would lose, big time. But if the Bill of Rights were put to a vote, I imagine it would lose, too.
That's why it's encouraging to hear that, if Mohammed is tried in
I share that sentiment. I don't want just a fair trial for Mohammed. Part of me wants assurances that he's going to hang. But, alas, a trial with an automatically assured outcome is not a trial. Calling it a kangaroo court would be an insult to kangaroos.
Still, tribunals make tantalizing red meat for politicians to dangle in front of disgruntled voters. On Sunday talk shows, perennial political hopeful
"I don't know why you want to give terrorists advantages," he said on
As for any inadequacy of civilian courts, Giuliani's sentiments contrast sharply with the praise he gave the trial of "20th hijacker"
Somehow that symbol has faded in Giuliani's mind as he worries today about civilian courts giving an "unnecessary advantage" to terrorists. In fact, our federal courts have waged an admirable war of their own against terrorists, whether the judges call it that or not. Our civilian courts have tried 195 cases of terrorism since 2001, according to
Since Holder's career may be riding on this trial's outcome, a not-guilty verdict for Mohammed doesn't sound very likely. Holder has said he has enough evidence to win a conviction, even though Mohammed is known to have been waterboarded during interrogations. Experts like Sen.
In the meantime, Obama is receiving support from unusual sources. Three prominent conservatives issued a statement this weekend supporting the Obama administration's decisions to transfer terrorism detainees to federal prisons and to try them in federal court. Other conservatives have since joined the statement by
"Over the last two decades, federal courts constituted under Article III of the U.S. Constitution have proven capable of trying a wide array of terrorism cases, without sacrificing either national security or fair trial standards," their statement reads in part. "The scaremongering about these issues should stop." Amen.
We Americans should turn to military tribunals only as a last resort, not because we "refuse to recognize that we are at war against terrorism" as President Obama's critics charge him, but because we need to minimize that war's collateral damage to our rule of law.
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