It's been a popular refrain by conservatives that the Detroit Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, ought to be turned over to the military so that he can be "squeezed" for information. Yes, that's because it's worked so well in the past... but more to the point, how's the former administration's track record on civil and military trials of terrorist suspects? From the UK's Guardian:
The Bush administration -- in which Liz Cheney's papa held a fairly high position, you might recall -- prosecuted, after 9-11, 828 people on terrorism charges in civilian courts. At the time of publication of this excellent report from the Center on Law and Security, NYU School of Law last year, trials were still pending against 235 of those folks. That leaves 593 resolved indictments, of which 523 were convicted of some crime, for a conviction rate of 88%.
With regard to military tribunals, the Bush administration inaugurated 20 such cases. So far just three convictions have been won. The highest-profile is the conviction of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver. The Hamdan legal saga, rehearsed here, doesn't exactly suggest that military tribunals provide swifter and surer and tougher justice. In the end, he was convicted all right, but sentenced -- not by a bunch of New York City Democrats, but by a military jury! -- to five and half years.
Then, the tribunal judge, a US Navy captain, gave Hamdan credit for time served, which was five years. So he served six months after conviction. Today he's back in -- guess where? -- Yemen.
Now far be it for us to accuse the Republicans, Faux News, and many conservatives of deliberate hypocrisy. But it's hard to look at the numbers and then suggest that the right-wing hysteria is anything but deliberate political gamesmanship without any regard to due process or actually addressing the threat of terrorism.