Commentary: U.S. courts have been tough on terror

The Miami HeraldFebruary 16, 2010 

The political attacks over the Obama administration's handling of terrorism cases owe their persistence to the enduring power of myth over reality.

Critics insist that those who support civilian trials for terrorism suspects are "soft" on terror. Yet the record clearly shows that civilian courts have been the most effective venue for dealing with these criminals. Almost 200 terrorists have been convicted in federal courts since 9/11, as opposed to only three under military commissions.

The list of convicted suspects includes some of the most notorious criminals connected to al Qaeda. Among them are "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, serving three life sentences without parole; and Zacharias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, serving life without parole at a "supermax" prison in Colorado.

Both of them, along with scores of others, were read their Miranda rights, afforded legal counsel, brought before a judge in open court and ultimately convicted. Yet when federal authorities decided to bring criminal charges against Umar Abdulmutallab for the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a jetliner near Detroit, a ruckus ensued.

The record shows this sensible approach, used by both President Obama and former President Bush, has worked, but that hasn't stopped politically-driven criticism designed to discredit the current administration.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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