Misleading claims for lawfare

Richard Clarke:


Before George W. Bush, there was no real question about what the United States should do with people who broke American anti-terror laws. It did not matter whether they were arrested in the United States or overseas. In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, for example, one suspect, Muhammad Salameh, was caught in New Jersey. Another, Ramzi Yousef, was caught in Pakistan. Upon arrest, both were given their Miranda rights, arraigned before a US magistrate, given a free lawyer appointed by the court, tried and convicted before a jury, and sentenced to the "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colo.

Nor did it matter whether terror suspects broke American law in the United States or abroad. The laws that make terrorist violence directed at Americans a crime also provide "extraterritorial jurisdiction," meaning the United States can try someone for such acts even if the crimes did not occur domestically. Mohammed Sadeek Odeh, who bombed the US embassy in Kenya, was arrested in Pakistan, returned to the United States, placed into the US justice system, afforded all the rights as an accused criminal, convicted, and is also now in Supermax.

Even in cases where the terrorist act was planned but not perpetrated, criminals were arrested and processed in federal courts. The so-called "Blind Sheik," Omar Abdul Rahman, was accused of plotting to bomb the United Nations, tunnels from Manhattan to New Jersey, and other iconic facilities. He too was convicted and placed in that same Colorado prison.


These claims are very misleading. Several of the perps were never caught. One of the reasons is that during the discovery process the defendants were given access to the information the US had about these people and they disappeared. In the trial of a few of the suspects in the African embassy bombings, we had to reveal that we were intercepting bin Laden's satellite phone conversations which tied him to the the bombings. He then quite using the satellite phone which could have tipped us off to the 9-11 attacks.

The special tribunals which Clarke claims are not needed actually have a procedure to protect the sources and methods of intelligence information used against the enemy. That would not be available in the kind of trial Clarke and the Democrats are touting.

Andrew McCarthy who actually tried the blind sheik strongly disagrees with Clarke's position and I suspect that Fitzgerald does too.


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