How Civilized, Law-Abiding Countries Imprison Terrorists

While the U.S.

While the U.S. continues to debate whether it must imprison accused terrorists without charges or trial -- and now even refuses to say whether it will release those who are given trials but then acquitted
-- numerous other countries are, with their actions, adhering to the
values and principles which we, with words, righteously claim to embody:

From The Associated Press today:

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- A Turkish appeals court has upheld a verdict sentencing six al-Qaida militants to life in prison for the deadly 2003 bombings in Istanbul.

court in Ankara says Wednesday it has approved the life sentence for
the six of the 74 suspects for their involvement in the attacks on Nov.
15 and Nov. 20, 2003. Those bombings killed 58 people and targeted two
synagogues, the British consulate and a London-based bank. . . .

The court has sentenced
33 other suspects to between three years and nine months in prison to
18 years. It acquitted 15 of them, citing lack of evidence,
while ordering a retrial for the rest, requesting further investigation.

From The New York Times yesterday:

BERLIN - The defendants in Germany's largest terrorism case in a generation announced in a Dusseldorf courtroom on Tuesday that they were ready to confess to plotting a series of deadly bombings.

The trial
was expected to last two years and had been billed as the biggest
terrorism case since leaders of the far-left Red Army Faction were
prosecuted in the 1970s. . . .

German authorities arrested
three of the suspects in September 2007 with 26 military detonators and
12 drums of hydrogen peroxide, more explosive material than was used in
the 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid.

security officials said the suspects had visited terrorist training
camps in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. They are accused of
being members of the Islamic Jihad Union, a radical
group based in Central Asia with roots in Uzbekistan. The four men are
accused of planning attacks against a list of targets, including the
airport in Frankfurt and Ramstein Air Base, an American installation in

Numerous countries that aren't the U.S. -- including those targeted by Terrorist threats at least as serious as those faced by the U.S. -- have routinely and repeatedly given what are called "trials" and "due process" to those it accuses not merely of harboring terrorist wishes, but also actually having carried out atrocious terrorist attacks. During the Bush era, even the U.S. -- when we were moved to do so -- successfully did the same.

real trials to people whom the state wants to imprison -- even accused
Terrorists -- is what civilized, law-respecting countries do, by
definition. By contrast, lawless and tyrannical states -- also by
definition -- invent theories and warped justifications
for indefinite detention with no trials. Before the U.S. starts
talking again about "re-claiming" its so-called leadership role in the
world, it probably should work first on catching up to the multiple
countries far ahead of it when it comes to the most basic precepts of
Western justice -- beginning with what ought to be the most
uncontroversial proposition that it will first give due process and
trials to those it wants to imprison. Shouldn't the claim that the
U.S. cannot and need not try Terrorist suspects be rather unconvincing
when numerous other countries from various parts of the world --
including those previously devastated by and currently targeted with
terrorist attacks -- have been doing exactly that quite successfully?

UPDATE: The Washington Independent's Daphne Eviatar has a good summary
of yesterday's Senate hearing on Obama's proposed policy of indefinite,
preventive detention. The hearing was shaped by an odd (though quite
revealing) spectacle: the most vigorous defenders of Obama's proposal
were a far right GOP Senator (Tom Coburn) and two of the most
right-wing, Bush/Cheney-loyal lawyers in the country (former Reagan
DOJ official David Rivkin and Ken Starr acolyte Richard
Klinger). Meanwhile, Obama's proposal was vigorously criticized by the
two Democratic Senators in attendence (Russ Feingold and Benjamin
Cardin), along with the civil libertian and human rights advocates who
testified and a former Bush DOJ federal prosectuor, David Laufman, who detailed the ongoing success the U.S. has had in prosecuting accused terrorists in real courts ("[E]xperience
has shown that terrorism prosecutions in Article III courts work. . . .
Congress should reject any proposal to establish a legal regime
authorizing indefinite detention without charge or trial").

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