Demand real justice

Demand real justice

When Republican senatorial candidate Pat Toomey met The Chronicle staff last week, he made it clear he opposed trying Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts — either here in western Pennsylvania, as has been proposed, or elsewhere.
In fact, he is opposed to exposing these detainees to any of the rights of the American justice system, including the Miranda warning (“you have the right to remain silent,” etc.). Toomey criticized federal authorities for mirandizing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian bomber who tried unsuccessfully to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day. Had the FBI not done this, Toomey contended, we could have secured useful intelligence from Abdulmutallab that could be used to keep Americans safer.
It’s a logical argument, except for one thing: It’s inaccurate.
NPR reported Wednesday that Abdulmutallab has been providing U.S. authorities “valuable intelligence for weeks” — weeks following his Miranda warning, that is.
With that information, again according to NPR, U.S. officials were able to assist Malaysian authorities, who last week arrested 10 people, including students who are thought to be part of an al-Qaida cell.
In fact, it now appears that Abdulmutallab never really stopped talking, except for a brief period for following the Miranda warning.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. The FBI, ATF and other federal law enforcement bodies have been investigating acts of terrorism on U.S. soil since the 1990s, perhaps earlier. They know how to get information, even after one’s rights are read.
They successfully investigated the first attempt to bring down the World Trade Center, and the homegrown terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
The suspects in these cases were tried in civilian courts and convicted. In the case of Timothy McVeigh — the Oklahoma City bomber — he was put to death.
In these cases, the U.S. justice system successfully dealt with enemies of the American people, both foreign and domestic.
And it doesn’t end there; our justice system has successfully prosecuted — Miranda warnings and all — Mafia bosses, drug lords, gang bangers, cult leaders and serial murderers.
So why are we so scared of the Guantanamo detainees that we’re willing to compromise our faith in our own courts and hand them over to military tribunals, which may or may not consider all the credible evidence, for and against?
Sadly, there are many politicians — Republicans and Democrats — who are stoking fear of trying these detainees on American soil, and they’re doing it for political reasons. They want to get elected — or re-elected. (Sen. Arlen Specter also has come out against trials in western Pennsylvania.)
The truth is there’s always an element of danger when a violent criminal — a murderer, a member of an organized syndicate — is brought to trial. Yet it’s still our responsibility as citizens to try them, in our courts.
Let’s not forget that the intended victims of 9/11 were not soldiers in the field. We were the targets. We have a right to see justice done; it should strengthen our resolve that our justice system has proven its ability to build cases against violent criminals, even after Miranda is in invoked, and to pass sentences and carry them out.
If detainees are convicted, even after they’re made aware of their rights, we will truly know that justice has been served.