The airliner, full of passengers from all walks of life, is in its final landing stages. One of the passengers, an Islamic jihadist, is preparing to kill every one of them. Only he fails to set off the explosives hidden in his underpants. His actions attract attention from the passengers and crew and he is quickly overcome and taken into custody upon landing. The story should be that he was taken off for interrogation and after some hours or days of questioning, using no torture, he tells his captors all they want to hear and is sent to Gitmo where he is tried by a military tribunal, found guilty and executed. The information gained is used to protect our citizens. End of story.
Not quite. You see we have an attorney general who wants to extend the rights and protections of United States citizens to foreign nationals who are trying to kill us. Foreign terrorists, who were not captured on the field of battle or were not wearing a uniform of any recognized nation, have little or no legal protection beyond the requirements of our humanity. Let's agree there are a few exceptions. Taliban fighters captured on the battlefield could be covered by the Geneva Conventions, al-Qaida terrorists are not. In our past wars the terrorists would have been summarily executed.
The attorney general’s view is supported by a number of well-minded citizens who believe every captured foreign terrorist has the protection of our founding documents and law. Therefore, they should be tried in our civilian court system where the rules of evidence and required legal assistance severely limit the prosecution. Evidence collected on the battle field or in the process of apprehending a terrorist will often not be permitted in a civilian court. The very process of submitting evidence collected, at some personnel risk, by the military, law enforcement and intelligence organizations threatens the exposure of the sources and methods used by the people trying to protect us. Now the same attorney general is going to try Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law, a high level al-Qaida member, in a civil court in New York with all the protections our legal system extends to U.S. citizens. He has already pleaded “not guilty” to conspiracy charges. How about murder? Is something wrong here?
The writer, a former CIA agent and special assistant to President Reagan on national security affairs, lives in Pawleys Island.