Editorial: Terror Trial Rightly Belongs in Federal Court

The case of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden who is charged with plotting terror against Americans, squarely belongs in federal court instead of before a military tribunal, a Santa Rosa (Ca.) Press-Democrat editorial declared.

While some lawmakers contend that he should face a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, the editorial said that “federal courts have ably handled hundreds of terrorism cases, safely and publicly, without compromising national security or creating a threat to public safety.”

The editorial also said that Mr. Ghaith is charged with conspiracy, which is not a war crime; that President Obama has not given up on plans to close Guantanamo; and that Mr. Ghaith would face a life term in prison if convicted in the federal court system, where he now faces charges. It concluded:

“Military tribunals and indefinite detentions at Guantanamo without any legal proceedings have damaged the United States’ reputation around the world. Trying this case in federal court would demonstrate the capability and legitimacy of the criminal justice system, reflecting more than two centuries of American legal traditions.”

The editorial also alluded to a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Ca. It was headlined, “A better path to justice: Why send Sulaiman abu Ghaith to Guantanamo? Federal courts have a solid record in convicting terrorists and take less time to do it.”

 At The Atlantic online, Andrew Cohen wrote about Jess Bravin’s book, “The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay.” The book, Cohen said, “focuses on the epic and continuing failure of America’s military tribunals to process suspects following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

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