Dealing with the radical Muslim terrorist threats to our nation cannot possibly be an easy job for the federal government, and we do not envy President Barack Obama nor others in his administration who must make difficult decisions about how to confront that threat.
But what should be amply clear is that people who are not citizens of the United States and who are believed to have committed terrorist acts against the United States or against U.S. forces overseas are not entitled to the due process rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens by our Constitution. They are entitled to humane treatment and to just adjudication, perhaps in a military tribunal.
But it is absurd that they would be brought into the U.S. civilian court system, as if fighting terrorism were a mere law enforcement exercise. Nothing in the Constitution entitles foreign enemies to any such rights.
It is troubling, therefore, that a Canadian man suspected of having played a role in the deaths in Iraq of five U.S. soldiers will be tried in a federal court in New York.
The suspect is Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa. He is accused of conspiring to kill Americans abroad and of giving material support to terrorists. The U.S. soldiers died when a terrorist drove a truck loaded with explosives into the gate at a U.S. military facility in Mosul, Iraq.
Bizarrely, the U.S. Justice Department has decided to grant ‘Isa a civilian trial.
Even if he is convicted in the federal court, he could face no more than life in prison. He would be spared a just sentence of death. He could even use our legal system to keep out important evidence in the civilian trial that might be permitted at a military tribunal.
Our nation is not served well by applying domestic criminal justice procedures to overseas terrorist acts and acts of war.