As to trying suspected terrorists, the record amply shows that our federal courts are well equipped to handle national security cases while providing due process. There have been hundreds of successful terrorism prosecutions in our courts, before and after 9/11. These include the cases of shoe bomber Richard Reid, who pled guilty in 2002, and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted in 2006. Both are serving life sentences.
Military commissions, on the other hand, despite recent improvements, remain a second-class system of justice that fails to meet both domestic and international legal standards. They have never been used for a murder trial, much less cases as complex as the pending terrorism prosecutions of the 9/11 suspects. The commissions have been mired in legal challenges and controversy, and, since 9/11, have delivered only three convictions, two resulting in sentences of less than a year (plus time at Guantánamo, in one case).
It is somewhat stunning that this controversy continues, considering the legacy of the previous administration. Throwing suspects into secret detention without due process and, in many instances, torturing and abusing them not only deeply hurt our international reputation; it also has failed to gather useful intelligence and has created a situation where some of the evidence that actually was collected is unreliable and now can't be used for prosecutions in any forum because it is tainted by torture.
Americans should resist fearmongering and refuse to let ideology dictate our national security policies. We should strive to both keep the country safe and uphold American values. If we abandon those values, we've really lost what it is we're fighting for.
Read why safety and national security mandate military trials for terror suspects, by Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas.