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Posts Tagged ‘federal courts’

Even al Qaeda Operatives Deserve Their Day in Court — and Justice

October 18th, 2013

by and

This week, the Obama administration indicted yet another terrorist in federal court, much to the expected grumblings of senior GOP lawmakers. On Monday, al Qaeda operative — and one of the FBI’s Most Wanted – Abu Anas al-Libi arrived in New York City to stand trial for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He unwillingly turned up in Manhattan after American special operations forces nabbed him in a daring raid in Tripoli.

In the expected Pavlovian response, senior Republican senators  Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Saxy Chambliss  (R-GA) criticized the move, arguing al-Libi should bypass the federal court system for a one-way trip to Guantanamo Bay and its military commissions. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, went a few steps further, calling the decision to arraign al-Libi in federal court ” despicable.”

Despicable? Hardly. But more importantly, this reflexive reaction ignores the records of the federal courts and the record — or lack thereof — of the military commissions.

Intelligence gathering is certainly one important aspect of the counterterrorism business, but ultimately the U.S. needs to prosecute and incarcerate these individuals instead of merely placing them in legal limbo — and our federal court system remains the most effective way to bring terrorists to justice. Here are three reasons why:

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