Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review Online today about the conviction of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s confidant, spokesman and son-in-law, of a terrorist conspiracy to kill Americans and providing material support to al Qaeda. It is good news that Abu Ghaith was convicted, but civilian trials for terrorists are not appropriate.
The article explains:
The principal problems are that (a) civilian due process requires revealing mounds of intelligence we have about the enemy, which is foolish to do while the war ensues and the enemy’s anti-American operations can still benefit; (b) it is perverse to reward enemy combatants with gold-plated due process once they succeed in mass-murdering Americans when other enemy combatants, who have plotted but not succeeded, are killed by military force with no due process; (c) military commissions are the proper vehicle for dealing with enemy combatants in wartime and they have been authorized by Congress—so enemy combatant terrorists, who defy international human rights norms by targeting civilians, should not be treated as if they were mere criminal defendants; and (d) the strong incentive prosecutors and courts have to withhold some discovery and procedural protections from enemy combatant terrorists—information and protections defendants would get in a normal criminal trial—can set precedents that apply to non-terrorists in ordinary cases, thus diminishing the quality of justice for Americans accused of crimes (i.e., the people for whom due process is actually intended).
Abu Ghaith used the same defense as the Blink Sheikh used when he was tried for the first bombing of the World Trade Center–that the jury should understand that his threats and incitements in al Qaeda’s cause were not as co-conspirator statements but as the preachments of a theologian performing the traditional role of an imam. The fact that threats of violence and violence are considered a routine part of an Islamic leader’s role should tell us that Islam is not a religion of peace. Keep in mind that Mohammad divided the earth into two spheres–Dar al-Islam–the land of peace and Dar al-harb–the land of war. Only those lands which are part of the world-wide caliphate under Sharia Law are considered part of Dar al-Islam. The goal is to use all means necessary to bring the entire world into that sphere. That is what we are up against.