A Terror Trials Pep Talk

There are two reasons I am utterly baffled by the possible reversal of the decision to try terrorists in federal court. First, it comes at a time when efforts to find, kill, and capture terrorists are having significant success. The key, it turns out, is to be dogged and professional, rather than going to “the dark side.” And that’s the other puzzling thing — that arguments based on fear-mongering and emphasizing the appearance of toughness still carry weight long after they were shown to do more harm than good.

We’ve got this totally backwards; this is a chance for the United States to show the contrast between the majesty of justice being done and some despicable sadists with the delusion that they can remake the world by murdering innocents.

And then there’s the big Republican talking point about the supposed folly of treating terrorists like “common criminals,” which we’ve heard from Sen. Graham as well as Minority Leader Boehner lately. Since when is every defendant or prisoner in our justice system a common criminal? Is this a flaw that we’re just noticing? Do we need a new system to deal with mass murderers, or some other categories of felonies in order to distinguish them from “common crimes?” And this is the real point, the military commissions have a troubled history and virtually no track record of success in prosecuting terrorists. It really is ridiculous that a court system that has proven its ability to prosecute terrorists, including handling sensitive evidence, should be discussed so skeptically. It really should be the other way around.

[From A Terror Trials Pep Talk]