November 16, 2009

Oh lovely. More fear mongering on another Sunday bobble-head show, this time from Bob Schieffer. Pat Leahy sets him straight on why the United States is perfectly capable of prosecuting terrorism cases.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you heard what the congressman said, Senator Leahy. Tell me why you think he’s wrong.

LEAHY: I think that Eric Holder, our attorney general, is right. I think the president is right in holding the trials of these murderers in New York City.

What we’re saying to the world is the United States acts out of strength, not out of fear. I know when I go around Vermont, people say, let’s try criminals. Let’s try criminals like KSM. Let’s get them convicted. We’re very much a law enforcement type of state here.

I was a former prosecutor. I’d like to just see them prosecuted. In the same which way we prosecuted Timothy McVeigh. We’re not afraid to do that. We’re the most powerful nation on earth. We have a judicial system that is the envy of the world. Let’s show the world that we can use that power. We can use our judicial system, just as we did with Timothy McVeigh, and send the people -- and convict the people.

SCHIEFFER: But Timothy McVeigh was an American. He was not what some people would call an enemy combatant.

LEAHY: But...

SCHIEFFER: Won’t this be a circus of sorts, though? That’s what the congressman is saying. He says it’s going to just turn into a propaganda show.

LEAHY: I have a lot of faith in our judges. They know how to run a trial. They know how to keep decorum in their court. If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed wants to stand up and say, as he did in Guantanamo, I committed all these murders, I did all these things, fine. If I was a prosecutor, I would just sit there and let that jury hear it, because he’s going to be convicted.

That’s the important thing. And we show the world that our judicial system works. I think that’s why people like Ray Kelly, who is the commissioner of police, one of the finest commissioners of police anybody has ever had there in New York City, said we’re prepared, we can handle this.

SCHIEFFER: But I guess the point that some people are raising is that someone who is an enemy combatant does not deserve the benefits that one gets in a trial in an American courtroom.

LEAHY: Bob, if somebody murders Americans and they murder Americans in America, they ought to be prosecuted in America, and hopefully convicted in America. I mean, if somebody comes into our country and murders somebody walking down the street, we’re going to prosecute them here. It doesn’t make any difference whether they’re Americans or not Americans. They committed the crime in America, and that’s what he did.

I think that the administration is doing the right thing. They’re using all the things we have available. With Major Hasan, we’re using a court martial at Fort Hood. That’s the appropriate venue for that. With these 9/11 murderers, we’re using the criminal courts in New York for them. With the people who bombed the U.S. Cole, we’ll use the newly reconstituted military tribunals.

I think it’s an example we’re showing the rest of the world. We have systems that work. We’re not afraid of these people. We’re ready to stand up to them. I don’t think we should run and hide and cower. Let’s use our system. And let’s convict them.

SCHIEFFER: What if he should be acquitted?

LEAHY: I don’t think he’s going to be acquitted. I’ve discussed the evidence that’s available. Again, I’ve not prosecuted this kind of a case, but I’ve prosecuted a lot of murder cases. I think most prosecutors know what is going to happen.

You have got Eric Holder, who is one of the most experienced prosecutors this country has ever had as attorney general. He’s got one of the greatest teams of prosecutors around him. I’ve gone over the case with him. I’d rather be the prosecutor than the defense counsel in this case.

SCHIEFFER: You know, anybody who has watched “Law and Order” or any of the other crime shows on television knows that the first thing that happens when a law enforcement arrests someone, they advise them of their rights, that they have a right to an attorney and so on. Now, there was no attorney here. This man was waterboarded 183 times. Do you think that we can find untainted evidence, enough of it, to convict him? Because if you say, well, he didn’t have a lawyer from the beginning, would that say to people, to a judge, well, you can’t use any of that evidence?

LEAHY: No, I think that we have plenty of evidence as obtained outside of the -- whatever he said in waterboarding. Keep in mind, they indicted him long before this waterboarding. They had evidence enough to bring indictments against him long before that. I don’t -- with the review that I’ve had of the evidence available, I have no question that they have enough evidence untainted by the waterboarding that will be admissible in court. And he will be convicted.

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