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Argument: Wrong to give some terrorists civilian trials and not others

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Jarrett Skorup. "The hypocrisy of trying terrorists in New York." The Examiner. November 16, 2009: "Detainees will get a 'fair trial' in civilian court only if their conviction is assured. By implication, that suggests that detainees who go before military commissions will get an unfair trial. Presumably the administration would deny this and say the commission trials will be fair too. But if so, why is such a trial not good enough for Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?"

Charles Krauthammer. "Travesty in New York." Real Clear Politics. November 20, 2009: "Finally, there's the moral logic. It's not as if Holder opposes military commissions on principle. On the same day he sent KSM to a civilian trial in New York, Holder announced he was sending Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole, to a military tribunal.

By what logic? In his congressional testimony Wednesday, Holder was utterly incoherent in trying to explain. In his Nov. 13 news conference, he seemed to be saying that if you attack a civilian target, as in 9/11, you get a civilian trial; a military target like the Cole, and you get a military tribunal.

What a perverse moral calculus. Which is the war crime -- an attack on defenseless civilians or an attack on a military target such as a warship, an accepted act of war which the U.S. itself has engaged in countless times?

By what possible moral reasoning, then, does KSM, who perpetrates the obvious and egregious war crime, receive the special protections and constitutional niceties of a civilian courtroom, while he who attacked a warship is relegated to a military tribunal?"

Andrew C. Mccarthy. "How Obama is courting danger: Civilian trials set back the war on terror." New York Daily News. November 22nd 2009: "as policy, the administration's decision is perverse. A half-century of humanitarian law, beginning with the Geneva Conventions, sought to civilize warfare. To receive enhanced protection, combatants must adhere to the laws of war and refrain from targeting civilians. Under Obama-logic, the Cole bombers get a military commission while the 9/11 savages are clothed in the majesty of the Bill of Rights.

So here's the message to terrorists: If you kill thousands of civilians, we will give you better rights than if you attack military assets. That is dangerously irresponsible."

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