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Debate: Trying 9/11 terror suspects in NYC courts

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=== Pro/con sources === === Pro/con sources ===

Revision as of 19:53, 19 November 2009

Should 9/11 suspects be tried in New York, as ordered by US attorney general Eric Holder?

Background and context

Conviction: Can civilian trials ensure conviction of the 9/11 terrorists?

Pro

  • KSM will almost certainly be found guilty in NY civilian courts. Steven Simon. "Why We Should Put Jihad on Trial." New York Times. November 17th, 2009: "Others complain that Mr. Mohammed might take advantage of quirks of the criminal justice system and go free. That’s highly unlikely. First, he has already confessed to the crime; and, given the zero acquittal rate for terrorists in New York previously, any anxiety about a “not guilty” verdict seems unwarranted."


Con

  • Trying terrorists in civilian court risks acquittal.
  • Civilian courts may throw-out evidenced obtained under coercion.

Rights: Is trying terrorists respectful of rights of all concerned?

Pro

  • Terrorists should be met with the weapon of the law. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani praised the trial of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, saying, "New Yorkers won’t meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon -- the law."[1]

Con

  • Civilian trials show more concern for terrorists than public. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani commented that he felt the decision to try terror suspects in New York: "seems to be an overconcern with the rights of terrorists and a lack of concern for the rights of the public."[2]
  • Wrong to give some terrorists civilian trials and not others. Jarrett Skorup. "The hypocrisy of trying terrorists in New York." The Examiner. November 16, 2009: "Detainees will get a 'fair trial' in civilian court only if their conviction is assured. By implication, that suggests that detainees who go before military commissions will get an unfair trial. Presumably the administration would deny this and say the commission trials will be fair too. But if so, why is such a trial not good enough for Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?"


Victims: Is allowing victims to see trials important?

Pro

Con

Intelligence: Can a civilian court adequately protect intelligence?

Pro

  • Trying 9/11 suspects in civilian courts will not reveal key intelligence. Steven Simon. "Why We Should Put Jihad on Trial." New York Times. November 17th, 2009: "John Yoo, a former Bush administration lawyer, argues that the trial would be an “intelligence bonanza” for our enemies. Also unlikely. Our prosecutors are certain that there is enough unclassified evidence to make their case. Moreover, the most prized intelligence is recent, specific and actionable. Al Qaeda today is most concerned with discovering when and where the next drone missile attack will take place in Pakistan, information not likely to be disclosed during a trial about a conspiracy hatched more than a decade ago."


Con

Click on the pencil icon and research and write arguments here





Location: Is the location of the trials in New York city appropriate?

Pro

  • It is fitting to try 9/11 terrorists at site of attacks. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in November of 2009: "It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered."[3]


Con

  • Trying 9/11 suspects in NY will re-open wounds of 9/11. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, top Republican on the House intelligence committee, said in November of 2009: "We are now going to rip that wound wide open and it's going to stay open two, three, four years. They are going to do everything they can to disrupt it and make it a circus."[4]

Vs. military tribunals: Would civilian courts better than military tribunals?

Pro

Con

Propaganda: Is trying 9/11 terrorists in NY courts a propaganda win or loss?

Pro

  • No one should be afraid of what terrorists will say in court. Attorney General Eric Holder said in Congressional hearings in November of 2009 on his decision to try 9/11 terrorists in New York civilian courts: "I’m not scared of what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has to say at trial, and no one else needs to be afraid either."[5]
  • Using civilian courts avoids cowering to terrorists. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee: "I don't think we should run and hide and cower. Let's use our system."[6]
  • There will be no TV cameras in trials of 9/11 suspects. Steven Simon. "Why We Should Put Jihad on Trial." New York Times. November 17th, 2009: "Which brings us to the idea that allowing Mr. Mohammed to take the stand will give him a soapbox. The truth is, if the trial provides a propaganda platform for anybody, it will be for our side. [...] First, federal courts do not permit TV cameras in the courtroom, so the opportunity for “real time” jihadist propagandizing won’t exist."


Con

  • Trying 9/11 terrorists in New York will turn into a circus. Cal Thomas. "Trying terrorists in New York is dangerous." The Wichita Eagle. November 18, 2009: "Instead of a Manhattan courtroom less than a mile from the site of where the World Trade Center stood, the government should have chosen the Bronx Zoo, because a zoo is what will be created when this terrorist trial is held. [...] You don't need an imagination to predict that crazies will show up at this trial, including Islamic terrorists in training who want to emulate the acts of the defendants. Some might be 'inspired' to create another event at or near the courthouse. Cable TV will carry it all."
  • Trying terrorists in NY courts will not help US achieve anything. Cal Thomas. "Trying terrorists in New York is dangerous." The Wichita Eagle. November 18, 2009: "What do we hope to accomplish by trying these mass murderers on U.S. soil? Will it produce more troops from our NATO allies to finish the job in Afghanistan? Not likely. When the world sees how good and fair we are, will it love America more and will terrorists decide to kill us less? Only in the world of make-believe inhabited by American Civil Liberties Union lawyers."
  • Terrorist trial in NY will give appearance of US weakness. Cal Thomas. "Trying terrorists in New York is dangerous." The Wichita Eagle. November 18, 2009: "It also will serve as a recruiting video for future terrorists, because it will demonstrate what, to them, is weakness. A strong nation would have tried these men in the military tribunals Congress authorized for that purpose. A weak nation imputes rights to noncitizens who want to do away with the very rights we are now going to afford them."


=Public opinion: Where does public opinion stand on this issue?

Pro

  • Public opinion irrelevant to merits of civilian trial of terrorists. Justice is justice, and judicial process is judicial process. This is the case no matter where public opinion stands on an issue. If it is right to try a terrorist in civilian courts, than this should be done, irrespective of what the public thinks.


Con

  • Majority of Americans are opposed to civilian trial of terrorists. A November 2009 CBS News Poll found that only 40 percent of Americans want Mohammed and his four minions to be tried in federal criminal court.


Economics: What are the economic pros and cons of this move?

Pro

Con

Pro/con sources

Pro


Con


External links

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