Hillary Defends Federal Criminal Trials for Terror Suspects

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today on Face the Nation:

"I don't believe so ... The terrorists who are serving time in our maximum security prisons are there because of civilian courts, what are called Article Three Courts. Our Article Three Courts have a much better record of trying and convicting terrorists than military commissions do, and in fact this defendant having been convicted will be sentenced somewhere between 20 years and life."

But she also seemed to defend military commission trials, at least in some cases:

"The civilian courts have a better record of actually convicting and imprisoning than we do yet have in the military commission. But we also don't want to have security problems or publicity problems for particularly dangerous leading terrorists. So we should look at the military commission."

So will this be Obama and Holder's final decision and justification? That security and publicity justify the use of military commissions? I hope not. Another lame idea, this time by Rep. Steny Hoyer: Holding a federal criminal jury trial at Guantanamo. Who's there to serve? Guards and their spouses? Or would they fly in a jury from New York? The security and surroundings would obliterate the presumption of innocence. Who would agree to move to Gitmo for the many months or longer the trial would take? Certainly not a cross-section of the public. [More...]

I think Obama will make no decision before the 2012 elections. He will just keep the 9/11 defendants in limbo, at Guantanamo, continuing to violate their rights to a speedy trial under our constitution and international law. And while no one in the U.S. but a handful of liberals will care, the international community may not be so sanguine about it.

Indefinite detention without trial is not an acceptable option. These defendants should be tried in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Guantanamo should be permanently closed. The court can handle it. So can, and should, New Yorkers. These offenses occurred nine years ago. Enough, already. Holder should file the charges. U.S. Marshals should work with the Pentagon and arrange the transport. If Congress intervenes and somehow blocks the transport or the trials, then it's on their hands. At least Obama will have taken a stand, and the right stand. Memo to President Obama: It's called leadership. Please exercise it.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Federal criminal trials for suspects (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Anne on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 04:55:39 PM EST
    are fine; it's the decision not to abide by the outcome of those trials, falling back on indefinite detention after acquittal, or when a sentence isn't long enough, that's the problem.

    The Sixth Amendment requires a trial (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 03:59:16 PM EST
    ... by "an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law ...."  As the crime was committed in the Southern District of New York (if we are talking about KSM and 9/11) then Hoyer is proposing that a jury of New Yorkers be transported to Guantanamo -- which according to the government (when they think it is convenient for them to say so, like when they denied that the detainees had any right to file habeas corpus petitions) is outside the United States, where there is no federal court -- to conduct the trial.  Without getting too technical about it, I'm pretty sure, based on 30 years' experience in federal criminal procedure, that there is no rule that would allow this crackpot idea to be carried out, and several that would forbid it.  

    What about the others? (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 11:34:32 AM EST
    Who have no actual connection to US soil?

    Tell me where the offense was allegedly committed (none / 0) (#11)
    by Peter G on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 09:18:35 PM EST
    and I'll try to tell you where venue would lie.  As the Sixth Amendment states, there must be, and are, pre-existing laws that define such things.

    Hoyer suggested bringing in a jury, (none / 0) (#3)
    by ruffian on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 06:48:08 PM EST
    I assumed from the mainland US. He said it would be just like being sequestered, except you are on a nice carribbean island instead of a Travelodge in Nrw Jersey.

    sign me up!

    But the defendant also has a right (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Peter G on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 07:16:56 PM EST
    to be present and participate when the jury is selected, so I guess Denny thinks we can bring a couple hundred New Yorkers down to Gitmo for a few days to select the 12 plus alternates who would then try the case.  And of course any and all victims (WTC survivors and families of the deceased) - thanks to Sen. Kyl's "Crime Victims' Rights Act" - have a right to attend also.  Quite the Caribbean circus he has in mind.

    maybe they dock a cruise ship there (none / 0) (#5)
    by nycstray on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 07:37:00 PM EST
    for the occasion . . . . :)

    Sounds right,except (none / 0) (#6)
    by observed on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 07:39:12 PM EST
    for the strip/cavity searches for the jury pool

    "Steny" (none / 0) (#7)
    by Peter G on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:12:06 PM EST
    not "Denny" - sorry, Rep. Hoyer.

    Plenty (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 11:58:31 AM EST

    Who would agree to move to Gitmo for the many months or longer the trial would take? Certainly not a cross-section of the public.

    There are plenty of folks in the northern states that would be happy to spend the winter in the  Caribbean.

    Yes, I've always dreamed of (none / 0) (#10)
    by Harry Saxon on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 08:50:17 PM EST
    spending my Caribbean vacation indoors most of the time I'm there.

    politically tone deaf (none / 0) (#12)
    by diogenes on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 10:31:38 PM EST
    The same people who are bringing you massive patdowns and screenings, not even based on profiling, as a response to one underwear bomber, are now obsessing about the rights of GITMO prisoners to have a jury trial as opposed to a military tribunal.  
    It sure looks like the rights of GITMO folks are more important than the rights of air travelers.