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A Small Victory for American Values

I was happy to read that some of the Gitmo terrorism suspects will be tried in New York in regular federal court. If we could give open trials to the suspects in the first World Trade Center bombing, we can give trials to their successors.  If we can give open and fair trials to the worst of the Nazis as we did at Nuremberg, we can try suspected al-Qaeda members in open court with full protections for the accused.

It would be better if everyone had their day in court without the admission of evidence provided under torture, but this decision is a small step towards honoring the values of America’s Founders. If they wanted exceptions to evidence and open trials, they would have put them into the Constitution.

The presence of suspected al-Qaeda suspects on American soil will not make us less safe. The terrorists are already resolved to do their worst. If New York is attacked in the next six months, it will probably will have resulted from a plan set in motion years before, as were the 9/11 attacks, or the work of homegrown terrorists who would attack eventually regardless of facts on the ground.

If we are attacked and the presence of al-Qaeda members in New York is claimed as a reason, then remember that freedom isn’t free. If we want to live as a free people with the rule of law, then we may have to sacrifice. And that sacrifice can’t be outsourced to our soldiers as much as they wish they could lift that burden from us.


Accused 9/11 Mastermind to Face Civilian Trial in N.Y.
Published: New York Times, November 13, 2009

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