Your Daily Dose Of Anti-Palin Hysteria | Main | "War for oil" finally pays off
September 09, 2008

Once Again Justice System Not Up to Prosecuting War on Terror

This time, the British justice system. In the trans-Atlantic bomb plot trial, jurors convicted only three of the seven defendants. And not on terrorism-related charges. Only the lesser charge of conspiracy to commit murder. On the charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, the jury deadlocked. The plot's ringleader, Mohammed Gulzar, was one of the four not convicted.

Jurors found that Ali, Sarwar and Hussain conspired to bomb "unknown" targets, apparently based on evidence that they scouted refineries and other sites around London in addition to flights bound for the United States and Canada.

"Not to get a conviction on plotting to murder on airplanes is a bit hard to swallow," said a British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly. "There were timetables, suicide videos, the known preference for Al Qaeda to focus on airplanes.

"Apparently juries need stronger evidence than they are getting. But when you are physically watching young Muslims known to be extremists recording suicide videos, there comes a point in a plot when you have to interfere, and run with what evidence you can get," the official said.

The problem is that evidence acquired from intelligence agencies is rarely admissible in court. Some is barred by procedural rules intended to protect criminal defendants from unfair prosecution. For example, domestic wiretap evidence is entirely barred in British courts. Much of this evidence is kept out of terror trials because it would reveal ongoing intelligence operations or the methods used to obtain it.

Paradoxically, this trial also suffered because the authorities acted too quickly to foil the plot. That's what the unnamed official is alluding to above: "there comes a point in a plot when you have to interfere, and run with what evidence you can get." This is a feature of the criminal law. You cannot convict a person of conspiracy until you can prove the agreement to a conspiracy and the objective of that conspiracy.

The intelligence work here, which largely wasn't admissible in court, far outpaced the police work. When the police stepped in they had very little to go on except what the intelligence agencies were telling them. Result: acquittal for all but three.

If we must persist in treating terrorism like crime, we would be better off creating a National Security Court as suggested by Andy McCarthy. Otherwise, we had better get used to terrorists walking.

digg this
posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:03 PM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
Don Q: "662 The recently scrubbed high school yearbook of ..."

Village Idiot's Apprentice [/i]: "Looks like the Colon will be honored by Hahvad. ..."

FenelonSpoke: "Seriously, that was his answer. I think Beto s ..."

Tom Servo: "I think we've debunked the 60 minutes story, but j ..."

Mandela funeral fake sign language guy [/i]: "[i].... ummmm..... wtf is "intromission". Poste ..."

Insomniac: "659 What's better? 8 inches length? Or 6 inches gi ..."

Victor Tango Kilo: "[I]I was pleased Merrick Garland was "Counter Bork ..."

Flawless Male Logic: "  First and second base stuff only, but I do ..."

Cuthbert the Witless: "656 "If." I cannot imagine an actual school-spon ..."

SSBN 656 (G): "Stupid troll's mother sock!!!! ..."

Jackal: "657 602. Nah, never happen. Ya stick by family, am ..."

Insomniac: "I apparently wasn't at the right parties in high s ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64