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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