Argument: Trying terrorists risks releasing intelligence, costing lives

Issue Report: Trying 9/11 terror suspects in NYC courts


Charles Krauthammer. “Travesty in New York.” Real Clear Politics. November 20, 2009: “Civilian courts with broad rights of cross-examination and discovery give terrorists access to crucial information about intelligence sources and methods. […] That’s precisely what happened during the civilian New York trial of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. The prosecution was forced to turn over to the defense a list of two hundred unindicted co-conspirators, including the name Osama bin Laden. ‘Within ten days, a copy of that list reached bin Laden in Khartoum,’ wrote former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the presiding judge at that trial, ‘letting him know that his connection to that case had been discovered.'”

Dan McLaughlin. “Why Terrorists Don’t Deserve A Court Date.” CBS. November 18, 2009: “The trials risk disclosure of sensitive intelligence information and sources. This is the most significant objection of all.”

Andrew C. Mccarthy. “How Obama is courting danger: Civilian trials set back the war on terror.” New York Daily News. November 22nd 2009: “our enemies will be given a full-blown civilian trial with all the rights of the American citizens they are sworn to kill. They will get a year or more to sift through our national defense secrets. They will have wide latitude to turn the case into a trial of the Bush administration – publicizing information about anti-terrorism tactics that leftist lawyers will exploit in their quest for war crimes prosecutions in foreign courts against current and former U.S. officials.

In the military system, we could have denied them access to classified information, forcing them to accept military lawyers with security clearances who could see such intelligence but not share it with our enemies. In civilian court, the Supreme Court has held an accused has an absolute right to conduct his own defense. If KSM asserts that right – as he tried to do in the military commission – he will have a strong argument that we must surrender relevant, top-secret information directly to him. And we know that indicted terrorists share what they learn with their confederates on the outside.”