It turns out we have two prize war defendants in our custody, and neither one is getting the military tribunal treatment.
One caveat: If Judge Napolitano is right, there is still the chance of a tribunal … but all signs indicate a trial. So what was all that huffing and puffing about anyway?
One of two people I'm talking about is Zacarias Moussaoui, the guy arrested in Minnesota on INS charges after he pestered a flight school to show him how to fly big planes — a request made in such a way as to arouse serious suspicion.
The other is jihad Johnnie Walker, the 20-year old Marin County youth who went Muslim, but might have been better off finding himself through any one of a dozen loopy self-realization courses at home in California.
Just say no to jihad, Johnnie might have been a good thing for his parents to say.
We have a foreign-born wannabe terrorist in Moussaoui, who is going to get a nice federal trial, and we have a homegrown Taliban in Walker, who will also get a federal trial, jury and all.
I would have thought Moussaoui was a suitable candidate for tribunal justice, but cooler heads evidently prevailed. So who are these tribunals for, anyway?
You would think Usama bin Laden and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar would be likely suspects. But those two guys are more likely to die cornered in a firefight with Northern or Eastern Alliance fighters.
Was there ever really a chance anybody would be run through the tribunal justice system? Secret trial, two-thirds vote on guilt, secret evidence, defense lawyer picked by the military ...
It was all a civil libertarian's nightmare, but it was also a correct process to have waiting in the wings for just the right defendant. After all, the judge in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case still has armed security providing him protection, and God only knows how the jurors in that case are feeling right now.
Who wants to be a judge or a juror in a case where the defendant has been making war on your country, and has compatriots and colleagues who have no compunction about killing anyone in their way — judges and jurors included?
It turns out Moussaoui and Walker aren't tribunal material, but somebody is likely to be. We'll have to wait to see who, but this war ain't over yet.
That's My Word.
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