Jewish World Review March 3, 2003 / 30 Adar I, 5763

Dan Abrams

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Why military tribunals could be the best optione of defining them as military


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The latest antics from alleged September 11th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui further demonstrates why military tribunals may be more appropriate for captured al Qaeda fighters.

Apart from the issue of defining them as military combatants or not, our justice system just isn't designed to deal with people who don't care whether they live or die, people who have no understanding of or respect for the justice system, who have no stake in the outcome, people who are ready to die anyway.

It affords someone like Moussaoui, a French-born Moroccan, the opportunity to represent himself and to make a mockery of the rights afforded to other defendants. He doesn't seem to want or need most of those protections. He has admitted he is a member of al Qaeda, sworn to bin Laden, and hoping for the demise and destruction of our country. He recently filed one of his nonsensical so-called legal motions where he asked that Attorney General Ashcroft "...be sent to Alexandria jail so I can torture him." And because he serves as his own lawyer, he may have a right to meet with other terrorists.

In theory, that could help bolster his defense. In reality, it simply stirs up more trouble. Now, is that a reason in and of itself to send people to military tribunals? Well, it may be, but ultimately that comes down to how you define these fighters. Should that mean Moussaoui should be transferred now from the Justice Department to the military? Probably not. I think there are ways around completely copping out of this case.

But for the future, as more international terrorists are captured, hell-bent on destroying this country and themselves, more and more military tribunals are looking like an attractive option.

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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors “The Abrams Report,” Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Today” and “Dateline NBC.” To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.

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