Congress is again showing its traditional contempt for the rule of law this week with members crying foul that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, an Al Qaeda spokesman and son-in-law of Usama bin Laden, would be actually given a fair trial. Senators like Lindsey Graham (who just yesterday condemned a fellow Senator for standing against Obama kill list policy) has denounced the decision not to give Abu Ghaith a military tribunal trial where basic constitutional protections are denied to detainees.
Abu Ghaith pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy to kill Americans. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, called the Obama administration’s decision to bring Abu Ghaith to court in New York City “sneaky.” It is now considered “sneaky” to give an accused person a fair trial. Such comments are an on-going embarrassment to this country as was Obama’s decision to continue to play a Caesar-like role in sending some detainees to Gitmo for a trumped up trial and some to a real court of law.
Graham and others continually remind the world of our hypocrisy in the treatment of detainees. We have created two systems of law — one for average people and one for people we hate or fear. It is the very antithesis of the rule of law and has been rightfully condemned around the world. While senators continually refer to who these defendants are, they spend little time discussing who we are and who we have become since 9-11.
As someone who has handled national security and terrorism cases, I can say that the odds remains exceptionally high for conviction in such cases. Before 9-11, a loss of such a case was exceptionally rare. We have a crisis of faith where we have lost our trust in our Constitution and our court system. With each of the tribunal trials, our credibility falls and the enemy succeeds. Terrorism is designed to change the way people act; to cause self-inflicted wounds. The greatest such injury is to turn our back on our core principles of due process and equal treatment. The administration should be commended for trying this man in a real court and should go further to shutdown the tribunal system which have produced few convictions while destroying the credibility of this nation.