Laws are Key Asset in Fight Against Terrorism

Washington, DC Today as the Senate Homeland Security Committee tackled tough questions related to this past weekend’s attempted Times Square Bombing and the capture of its alleged plotter, Faisal Shahzad, Human Rights First is calling on lawmakers to resist the urge to circumvent laws designed to protect national security.

“Appeals to fear are an easy sell, but a society willing to abandon its laws is what is really frightening,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Masimino. “Since this plot was first revealed, we have observed the strength of our nation’s laws and their ability to handle the complexity of terrorism cases. Those calling on our leaders to abandon America’s fundamental principles, including Miranda rights and use of our civilian courts, undermine the ability to build a strong case against Mr. Shahzad and any others found to be involved with this attempted bombing.”

During today’s hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) among others suggested that terrorism suspects should not be Mirandized. He observed that affording suspected terrorists who are American citizens their constitutional rights is giving them a “better deal” than suspects captured in other parts of the world.

Graham’s remarks echoed assertions made by other policymakers on Tuesday, sentiments that spurred an immediate rebuttal from retired military leaders, including Brigadier General James P. Cullen, USA (Ret.) who stated, “In the fight against terrorism, our laws and values are our best assets. Our federal courts have shown time and again that they are up to the task of trying terrorist suspects. Those who question Miranda or suggest stripping suspects of their citizenship fail to understand that the rule of law if the best defense we possess, and the weapon that brings the most people to our side.  We should challenge anyone who suggests we ignore what makes us the strongest.”

Shahzad’s arrest comes as the Obama Administration continues to consider whether it will try the 9/11 suspects. Human Rights First has long advocated for federal civilian court trials, noting that the venue has secured more than 400 convictions in terrorism cases since 9/11. By contrast, the military commissions, mired in legal challenges, have convicted only 3 detainees. Two of those men have already been released.


Published on May 5, 2010


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