Terrorism on trial


So, dangerous foreign terrorists who seek to destroy the United States now get the same constitutional protections afforded American citizens?

"We have a president who doesn't know we're at war," Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the hijacked jetliner that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, said Friday after the Obama administration announced it would try the mastermind of the worst attacks on U.S. soil in a civilian federal court in New York.

Four other terror suspects thought to be involved in planning 9/11 will also be put on trial in that federal court.

The government will seek the death penalty.

The decision isn't particularly surprising, given the Obama administration's promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, where the men are now imprisoned. But it is fraught with risk and raises questions about how this administration intends to fight the war on terror.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision by saying, "For over 200 years our nation has relied upon a faithful adherence to the rule of law.

Once again, we will ask our legal system in two venues to answer that call."

But since when have we ever tried prisoners of war, enemy combatants or whatever you want to call Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his ilk in a civilian court under protection of the Bill of Rights? What will we do with Osama bin Laden if we find him? Read him his Miranda rights?

"By trying them in our federal courts, we demonstrate to the world that the most powerful nation on Earth also trusts its judicial system," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

So this is actually more about securing the approval of the French?

The dangers here are obvious. The courthouse -- and all of Manhattan -- will become a potential terror target once again.

Judicial discovery may lead to important classified information falling into the hands of al-Qaida terrorists. The trials could easily degenerate into circuses.

The Obama administration has made the wrong move. These men should be tried in a military setting.

But Americans will now cross their fingers and hope all goes well in New York.

 

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