POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - 10:29pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 12:06pm
Should Gitmo detainees be tried in New York?
The controversy over Attorney General Holder's decision to try the 9/11 terrorists in federal court instead of a military tribunal is stirring up fierce debate.
"We're going to make this country less safe,” said South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham. “That is my problem with what you have done."
Military tribunals versus federal court. Which is the proper trial venue for terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, including Khalid Sheik Muhammed?
"Holding terrorists responsible for their actions,” Holder told the Senate today, “We are finally taking ultimate steps toward justice. That is why I made the decision."
"Provide Khalid Sheik Muhammed with the position to be a hero among his sympathizers," countered Senator Jeff Sessions.
Holder replied, "I'm not afraid of what Khalid Sheik Muhammed has to say at trial."
From General George Washington to President Franklin Roosevelt, military tribunals have been used against unlawful military combatants, usually meaning spies.
"Khalid Sheik Muhammed and his four other associates that Holder has determined are going to go to federal court, they were enemy combatants," says Dr. Jeffrey Addicott of St. Mary's University center for terrorism law.
He added, "It's very likely that Khalid Sheik Muhammed might not get the death penalty. The Blind Sheik who was a terrorist did not get the death penalty and they murdered and slaughtered people at the twin towers."
Francesca Laguardia of the Center on Law and Security in New York contends that federal court is the right decision.
"Criminal courts know how to handle these cases,” she says, “and have established procedures for handling these cases. Not to mention their very high success rate. The success rate on terrorism cases is around 94%."
"You're not going to get swift justice in a federal district court,” Addicott contends. “And as for assuring the death penalty, we can assure the death penalty much Quicker in a military commission."
generally, we have used military tribunals for spies and saboteurs, but just to confuse things, the war crimes trials at Nuremburg were military tribunals, but the judges were civilian.
So this debate will go on.