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... supports Professor William Snyder's sections of National Security Law, Counterterrorism Law, and Prosecuting Terrorists at the Syracuse University College of Law.

Wrong, Wrong and Right on Federal Courts for Terrorism Cases

Gabor Rona, International Legal Director of Human Rights First writes on Huffington Post entitled "Wrong, Wrong and Right on Federal Courts for Terrorism Cases," that "There are two distinct camps criticizing the use of federal courts to try terrorism suspects after last week's federal court conviction of former Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Ghailani. Both are wrong." 

He writes that the first camp includes several members of Congress, such as Representative John Boehner who says that the Ghailani verdict shows that military commissions are far superior to federal courts despite the following facts: 

"(1) that Ghailani was convicted in federal court and faces 20 years to life; (2) that military commissions would not likely have admitted the torture-based evidence excluded by the federal court; (3) that military commissions' powers are limited to war crimes and cannot likely try people for conduct, like Ghailani's involvement in the 1998 embassy bombing, that pre-dates the US' war against al Qaeda, or for "conspiracy," a crime that three US Supreme Court justices have said is not a true war crime; and (4) the entire host of other problems that equate "military commissions" with "dysfunctional, disreputable and dispensable."

The other camp, which he terms "the more knowledgeable (or more honest) camp" recognizes the flaws of the military commission system, but calls for indefinite detention without trial. Jack Goldsmith is included within this group who "poses the political nightmare scenario in which a terrorism suspect is found not guilty."

Lastly, Rona cites the following:

"Human Rights First has conducted research, published in two major reports entitled Pursuit of Justice (here and here) on the experience of federal courts in hundreds of terrorism cases. These reports have received widespread acclaim for their detail, accuracy and successful refutation of criticisms that leveled at the use of federal courts."

For the full text of the article, click here

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One Response to “Wrong, Wrong and Right on Federal Courts for Terrorism Cases”

  1. The reports entitled Pursuit of Justice to which Gabor Rona refers are excellent. He is disappointingly sarcastic, however, when he refers to the “political nightmare scenario in which a terrorism suspect is found not guilty” as “what we used to call justice.” Are all jury verdicts justice? How come when a jury convicts an innocent person it is called a travesty, but when a jury acquits a guilty person we call it justice? The whole point of this debate is whether or not federal district courts and their lay juries are capable of handling these kinds of cases. Such courts are not truth-seeking commissions. They routinely suppress reliable evidence in order to serve other societal values such as deterring police misconduct. It is not justice if a jury acquits because they are hopefully confused by our poorly structured criminal statutes (long an object of unsuccessful reform), or because they cannot understand lengthy and complicated jury instructions, or because reliable evidence was withheld from them, or because they disregard instructions and conduct outside research, consider possible penalties, or confer with outsiders. A not guilty verdict may or may not be justice, depending upon the facts and law of the case. Rona’s assumption that it would be says more about his presumptions than it does about the facts.

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