Zazi Case Reignites Terrorist Trials Debate

Should terror suspects be tried in civilian court?

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Score another one for the side of law and order in the fight against terrorists. The U.S. justice system worked properly in the case of Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi, who pled guilty Monday to terrorism charges in a plot to bomb New York City subways. Not surprisingly, the decision has gotten a lot of attention among liberals who point to it as more evidence that having a military component to the battle against terrorists doesn't obviate the other facets of the struggle, including the criminal justice side of it. Zazi isn't a soldier, captured behind enemy lines, in other words, he's a would be mass murderer.

(That said, that previous paragraph falls into what PPI's Jim Arkedis correctly identifies as liberals' bad habit of engaging in this debate in egg-heady or technocratic terms, when instead they should speak from the gut and to the heart: "Using civilian courts shouldn't be referred to as a 'tool,'" he argues; "rather, the entire case should be framed as a 'strong victory over those who are dedicated to killing us.'"

For a good summary of the terrorists-in-court issue, check out the debate we had last week between the ACLU's Anthony Romero (who not surprisingly favors using the criminal justice system) and Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican and JAG Corps veteran who makes the case against using civilian courts, arguing that people who want terrorists tried there don't understand the Constitution.

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