Senator McConnell Still Wrong on Terror Trials

In June 2011, Senator Mitch McConnell warned us that if Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, two Iraqis who allegedly sent weapons and money to al Qaeda in Iraq, were tried in Kentucky federal court, Bowling Green could become a target for jihadists:

A few weeks ago, it would have been safe to say not a single foreign terrorist in the world could find Bowling Green, Kentucky, on a map. But after the ill-advised decision of the Obama Administration to try two foreign fighters in a civilian federal court in Bowling Green, they probably know where it is now.

He also warned that a federal court trial for Alwan and Hammadi would result in the town becoming “a virtual encampment, with heavily armed agents, rooftop snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs, blocked streets, [and] identification checks,” and that a federal trial would risk compromising classified information. What was his solution? Send them to Gitmo.

Well, yesterday, in a Kentucky federal court, the two Iraqi men were sentenced to a life sentence (Hammadi) and 40 years (Alwan) in prison after both men pleaded guilty to charges against them. And did Senator McConnell’s predictions come true? Not a single one.

It turns out that while the military commission trials at Guantanamo continue to be bogged down in procedural confusion and chaos, federal courts are trying terrorism-related cases with few problems and with the procedural clarity that comes from a long history of trying these types of cases.

Two years ago, Senator McConnell may have thought his comments were “tough” on terrorism.  But it’s the federal courts that ultimately meted out justice. Federal courts can and do handle terrorism-related cases on a daily basis. We don’t need Guantanamo.

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Published on January 30, 2013

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