Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and an al Qaeda spokesperson, appeared in a New York courtroom this morning, and pleaded not guilty to plotting to kill Americans. It was his first court appearance after having been captured on Feb. 28 and flown to New York last week.
Of course, there apparently has to be a political angle to the proceedings, and as Adam Serwer noted, several congressional Republicans are "furious" at the Obama administration for "prosecuting an alleged terrorist." And why might that be? Because the GOP officials disapprove of the use of the federal court system.
Several Senate Republicans are slamming the administration's to move its latest terror suspect through the federal court system, bypassing the military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [...]"Military detention for enemy combatants has been the rule, not the exception. By processing terrorists like [Ghaith] through civilian courts, the administration risks missing important opportunities to gather intelligence to prevent future attacks and save lives," according to a joint statement by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Lindsey Graham (R.S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Do we really have to explain this to Congress again?
Look, we have a very capable system of federal courts, which have tried and convicted plenty of terrorists. We have also have a terrific system of federal penitentiaries, which have a record of never, ever allowing a convicted terrorist to escape.
On the other hand, we also have a system of military commissions, which tend to be an ineffective setting for trying suspected terrorists. It's why every modern presidential administration has relied on civilian courts for these kinds of trials. It's why the Pentagon, Justice Department, and intelligence agencies are unanimous in their support for trying accused terrorists in civilian courts. It's why folks like David Petraeus and Colin Powell -- retired generals McCain, Graham, and Ayotte tend to take seriously -- agree with the Obama administration and endorse Article III trials.
So why must Republicans rely on stale, misleading talking points?