The trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith should not be held in federal court, but much rather in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. The terrorist suspect is not, and has not ever been, a citizen of the United States of America and therefore should not be tried in the same court as U.S. citizens, nor should they receive the same legal rights as U.S. citizens. He should not have the constitutional right to remain silent. Military interrogators should be able to ask him about his close relationship with Osama bin Laden and the planning of the 9/11 attack on America.
We have seen the negative consequences of attempting to bring al Qaeda-trained operatives to trial in U.S. civilian courts before. In 2009, under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder, the trial of suspect Ahmed Ghailani was moved from Guantanamo Bay to federal court in New York. Ghailani helped plan and carry out the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Due to the legal rights and protections given to Ghailani by moving that trial, critical evidence was made inadmissible and as a result prosecutors were only successful in convicting Ghailani on a paltry conspiracy charge. He was acquitted on the 200 or more murder charges and a myriad of other charges. This case showed how vulnerable our justice system is to manipulation by al Qaeda operatives.
Even lawyers who have successfully prosecuted terrorists in federal court admit that it's not the best place to try terrorists. Former U.S. Attorney Andy McCarthy successfully prosecuted and convicted Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 other conspirators in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. McCarthy himself says that military commissions are legal and a better option for prosecuting terrorists than federal courts.
The process of military tribunals currently in place at Guantanamo Bay is perfectly legal and satisfies the right of due process for terrorist suspects. The U.S. Department of Justice further reinforced this fact when they decided to abandon plans to try Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in New York City, sending his trial back to Guantanamo Bay. Why wouldn't President Obama and Eric Holder choose to do the same with Sulaihman Abu Ghaith? Why will they give a platform in New York to a known terrorist and hater of America?
About Danny Gonzalez Director of Communications for Move America Forward
Daphne Eviatar Senior Counsel Associated with Human Rights First's Law & Security Program
Andy Worthington Freelance Investigative Journalist
Sterling Thomas Defense Counsel for 9/11 Defendant Ammar al Baluchi
Stephen Vladeck Professor of Law at the American University Washington College of Law
Daniel J. Gallington Senior Policy and Program Adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute
Mike Rogers Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence