Trials and terrors.

The law, lawyers, and the court.
April 16 2004 7:06 PM

Trials and Terrors

These are our banner terror trials?

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But the Bush administration needs to do two things differently, starting now: First, it must stop heralding each of these trials as a determinative battle in the war on terror. It puts too much pressure on prosecutors to behave appallingly, as they apparently did in Michigan. And it bullies possibly innocent defendants into accepting guilty pleas by threatening to designate them as "enemy combatants." Second, the administration must try a real terrorist for real acts of terror. Either the Moussaoui trial should go forward, based on real terror charges, with Moussaoui given a meaningful opportunity to defend himself, or Padilla, Hamdi, or Binalshibh should be tried in open court. Reserving the courts for the small-fry sends the message that the Western legal system can only punish the pretty-bad. And treating each pretty-bad guy like he committed the crime of the century sends the message that justice was never really the point in the first place.