Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Already Conveyed Weakness

Cal Thomas is instructional in his column today in that he shows us how terrorists win. He's complaining about the announcement that five terrorists are to be tried in federal court in New York City for their roles in the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The trial could also serve as a venue for trying the Bush administration and second-guessing decisions that kept America safe after Sept. 11. Secrets might be revealed that could be used by terrorists to harm us again. And if the terrorists must have a jury of their peers, does that mean fellow Muslims might be included? Could that end in a hung jury or a mistrial?

Attorney General Holder assures us that conviction of the “criminals” is a virtual certainty. Anyone who follows our quirky court system knows that innocent people are in prison and murderers walk the streets. It is anything but a foregone conclusion that these men will be convicted, but it is likely that damage will be done to the United States, which is the primary objective of the terrorists.

What could we possibly try the Bush administration for that we don't already know and haven't done anything about? What we know is bad enough already but that hasn't prompted a call to action by many.

As to secrets being revealed, the U.S. has prosecuted many cases--some involving terrorists--where national security concerns remained safely hidden away.

Muslims on the jury?! Heavens! That would give my great-grandmother a touch of the vapors, forcing her to clutch her pearls in sheer terror. We let white people serve on the jury for white suspects, Catholics for Catholic suspects, and geologists for fellow geology suspects. Heck, we even let women serve on a jury despite their propensity to clutch their pearls in stressful moments.

Name one terror suspect prosecuted by the U.S. that got off. Even the most bumbling and inept alleged terrorists were found guilty. Some after more than one trial, but once they were in the cross hairs they stayed there until a jury was convinced and returned a guilty verdict.

Our "quirky court system" is based on the U.S. Constitution which contains rights for for the accused. Should any of these rights be violated or should the government overstep their bounds or should a law enforcement officer be sloppy or corrupt, then the guilty can go free and the innocent can be imprisoned. It's not a perfect system, but we hold it high for the world as a model of justice.

As to the damage done to the United States, it started years ago and will take many years to repair. The damage was done when we created a separate and faulty justice system for these suspects, when we created a new category for them where anything--including torture--goes and then lied about it, and when we decided we could imprison suspects indefinitely just because we thought they were a threat.

Attorney General Holder's decision to try five terrorists in federal court is a small victory. There are other prisoners being held in Guantanamo who will see military tribunals which have little or no protection for the rights we hold so dearly. And there are others who will remain lost in a vacuum known as preventive detention, allegedly too dangerous to be released but lack evidence to be tried. How's that for being a model of justice and human rights?

You don’t need an imagination to predict that crazies will show up at this trial, including Islamic terrorists in training who want to emulate the acts of the defendants. Some might be “inspired” to create another event at or near the courthouse. Cable TV will carry it all.

Cal Thomas's imagination has got the best of him and he provides a perfect example of how terrorists win. Be fearful and react in a way that changes your society for the worst.


Spokane Al said...


My problem is that, putting the logistical arguments aside, I cannot understand how people such as this guy, who was picked up in what I believe was a war, is being moved to a civilian court, rather than the military tribunal system, which was established to deal with these situations.

The definition of a military tribunal (via Wikipedia) is a kind of military court designed to try members of enemy forces during wartime – which I believe covers this situation. And we do have precedence via President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who ordered military tribunals for eight German prisoners accused of planning sabotage in the United States.

Take care.

Lucas said...

I am super-excited we are going to try them in court, as criminals, which is what they are.

Hank Greer said...

I understand what you're saying, Al. This was a Global War on Terrorism, a war against an ideology and not a state. The German saboteurs were uniformed members of a state we were at war with.

We went through a similar "war on terrorism" (but we didn't call it that) back in the 70's and I wrote about it some time ago. http://www.shallowcogitations.com/2008/01/terrorism-sorry-for-long-post.html

These are criminals just like they were 40 years ago.

Sherry said...

I thought at least one of these five terrorists already pled (plead/pleaded?) guilty quite a while ago and offered to undergo the death penalty. That would seem to solve at least one problem, but today I heard Mr. Holder say that he's "not sure if that guilty plea is still 'good'" Oh good grief.

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