Justice for None

The decision in the Ahmed Ghailani trial has re-sparked the debate concerning terror suspects receiving civilian trials in federal court. Byron York hits the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned as to why these trials are so problematic: Holder ignored risks of civilian terror trials

A spokesman pronounced the Justice Department “pleased” with the verdict, although it seems a stretch to say that prosecutors who accused a defendant of killing 224 people were happy when he was acquitted of every single murder charge.

Ghailani could be sentenced to as little as 20 years in prison and to as much as life. If he had been fully acquitted, administration officials hinted, they would have kept him in custody anyway.

That’s right: Holder and the president are so eager to restore the primacy of the Constitution in our handling of accused terrorists that they promise that acquitted defendants will remain imprisoned, possibly for life. In addition, Holder and Obama are so anxious to close Guantanamo that they are searching for a way to hold civilian defendants inside the United States indefinitely without charges or trial. And it’s all in the name of greater fealty to the Constitution.

The problem with this scenario should be apparent. After espousing the federal court system as the mechanism by which to deal with these suspects, the Obama administration would then completely ignore the results of that very system, thus turning a federal court into a kangaroo court and invalidating the American justice system for the entire world to see. This wouldn’t be upholding justice, it would be making a mockery of it.

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3 Responses to Justice for None

  1. Gripweed says:

    I agree with the article. I find it dangerous for the Justice Department to create the impression that a fair trial is not possible in the military tribunal system. Should court-martials be tried in civilian court? What happens the next time the US declares war on a foreign enemy?

    One of the reasons that I believe the military tribunal to be the appropriate venue for these cases is that the military, through working hand in hand with the intelligence gathering community, has a level of understanding of the methods of the CIA that a civilian jury may not have, noble though their intentions may be. (This is to say nothing of the plethora of politically-connected judges that can potentially affect the outcomes of these trials.)

  2. roopost says:

    Drae, Gripweed,

    While I still find the notion of military tribunals discomforting, the notion that regardless of an outcome in a civilian court or military tribual the current administration would continue to hold prisoners – indefinitely – to be so counter productive to the stated goal of ‘defeating’ terrorism as to be mind numbing in its foolishness.

    The notion of justice, its perception and actuality cannot – for the impression of preserving security – be set aside so casually. The perception created by a military tribunal may not provide the sort of impression of justice needed to satisfy foreign observers of US law – yet, to simply cast aside any verdict no matter how it is arrived at would be tantamount to turning the International perception of US justice into theatre; and US credibility would be shattered.

    One does not build confidence on a fiction.

    Kind regards,

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