Detroit News - Miller: Military Commissions Best Place for Terrorists Trials


By Representative Candice Miller

Our nation just commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the terrible attacks on Sept. 11, and in a decade we have learned that the enemy we face is ruthless, determined to kill innocent Americans whenever they can and uses tools of freedom to advance their cause, including our system of justice.

Congress rightly recognized in 2001 that this conflict is not a mere criminal matter; rather we are at war with al-Qaida.

Our pre-9/11 approach to prosecute al-Qaida as common criminals was seriously flawed, and America's half measures during the 1990s did nothing to help stop the attack on that day in September.

Problems persist

The Obama administration has continually sought to use that flawed approach now -- affording constitutional rights to terrorists, including the right to remain silent, to which I believe they are not entitled. Our enemy views this system as a weakness to be exploited to advance their cause.

When 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured, he is reported to have told his interrogators, "I'll talk to you guys after I get to New York and see my lawyer."

Terrorists are the enemy

The first responsibility of our law enforcement and intelligence agents is to obtain intelligence to prevent another attack and protect American lives. After they have gathered that intelligence, our enemies should face justice under the military commission system.

Terrorists like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to blow up a Northwest flight over the skies of Detroit in December 2009, view themselves as holy warriors, but in reality they are unlawful enemy combatants whose goal is to kill innocent Americans -- clear violations of the law of armed conflict.

Everyday Americans understand

This administration's ideological blinders prevent it from seeing what most Americans innately understand -- these enemies of freedom do not deserve the protection of our Constitution; they are, and should be treated as, enemy combatants. Never before has any nation extended such a robust set of protections to its enemies, and given them a forum to spew their vile hatred.

Recently, potential jury members and the city of Detroit were treated to such an outburst by Abdulmutallab who shouted, "Osama's alive" and "Jihad" during a jury selection hearing in federal court. This terrorist was afforded his Miranda rights shortly after his capture, given the the best medical care at the University of Michigan Hospital and is being afforded a standby attorney even though he has decided to represent himself. Taxpayers are footing the entire bill.

While we watch the pre-trial unfold, it is disheartening to watch as yet another terror trial turns into a circus.

End the circuses

Terrorists are enemy combatants and should be brought to justice for their acts in military commissions, the same venue that's been used since Gen. George Washington.

I continue to call on this administration to reverse its ill-advised policy of trying terrorists in federal courts and instead try them in a military commission consistent with the Military Commission Act of 2009.

Let us not forget that al-Qaida, and their offshoot organizations, view the battlefield in an asymmetric way; it is not limited geographically to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On Dec. 25, 2009, the battlefield for Abdulmutallab was seat 19A on Northwest Flight 253 and his goal was to murder nearly 300 innocent civilians. We are thankful that he did not succeed.

The Obama administration should treat Abdulmutallab as the unlawful enemy combatant that he is, and move him to military custody and try him in a military commission for his crimes.The people of Michigan and America should not have to watch as another enemy of our nation uses the tools of our freedom to continue attacking those very freedoms. The circus must end.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller is a Republican from Harrison Township.