It's Come To This.


It's really remarkable that we've gotten to a point in American history where the Republican Party has managed to make fair trials for people who commit crimes "controversial." It's not true that a suspect can't be interrogated without being mirandized or without his lawyer present. The military commissions are incredibly inefficient, and it's standard practice to give foreign nationals who try to commit crimes against Americans the same rights as any other defendant; there's nothing remarkable or strange about it at all.

Umar Abdulmutallab is not a uniformed agent of a foreign power, and he wasn't captured on a battlefield, where the exigencies of combat might justify an alternative legal process. He wasn't even going after a military target. The entire argument for trying him by military commission is based on the notion that he's guilty and therefore doesn't deserve certain legal rights, but those can't be denied to him without due process of law because of something called the Constitution.

At what point does it become clear that people who think trying Abdulmutallab in a civilian court is a bad idea simply want a separate legal system for Muslims accused of terrorism, whether or not they happen to be American citizens? It's not like anyone on the right is demanding that James von Brunn be charged by military commission.

-- A. Serwer

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