Monday, October 19, 2009

What to do with Enemy Combatants and Terrorists?

The U.S. President, Barack Obama has made it clear that the Guantanamo Bay prison now holding enemy combatants captured on the battle field will be closed. What is to happen with these people, some of whom are terrorist masterminds and very very dangerous.

In a very well written piece just published in the Wall Street Journal, former United States Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey challenges us to think about what to do with enemy combatants and terrorists.

This is a lengthy article, but I strongly encourage you to take the time to read it.


Civilian Courts Are No Place to Try Terrorists 

We tried the first World Trade Center bombers in civilian courts. In return we got 9/11 and the murder of nearly 3,000 innocents.

The Obama administration has said it intends to try several of the prisoners now detained at Guantanamo Bay in civilian courts in this country. This would include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and other detainees allegedly involved. The Justice Department claims that our courts are well suited to the task.

Based on my experience trying such cases, and what I saw as attorney general, they aren't. That is not to say that civilian courts cannot ever handle terrorist prosecutions, but rather that their role in a war on terror—to use an unfashionably harsh phrase—should be, as the term "war" would suggest, a supporting and not a principal role.

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