Why Bother Putting Terrorists on Trial?

...Since we're not going to release them
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2010 12:24 PM CST
Why Bother Putting Terrorists on Trial?
In this 2009 courtroom sketch, Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, left, listens as his civilian lawyer Scott Fenstermaker, right, speaks at his arraignment in U.S. Federal Court in New York.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams, File)

Why does the Obama administration insist on trying terrorists when it has no intention of freeing them? In October, the federal judge in the trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, an alleged conspirator in two US embassy bombings, complained that even if Ghailani were found innocent, the government could continue detaining him as an “enemy combatant” until the war on terror is over. “So what exactly is the point of the trial?” asks Jacob Sullum in Reason.

Because al-Qaeda will never formally surrender, Ghailani will be imprisoned for life no matter what. The Pentagon and administration have all but confirmed this. Is the world really supposed to applaud because we gave a prisoner a trial with a pre-determined outcome? Even seeking the death penalty seems like a pointless exercise—the administration already claims the right to kill terrorists without trial in the field. “The government could simply let him go—and then kill him.” (More Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani stories.)

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