Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Makes Good On Pledge To Try Terrorist Suspects In Criminal Court


A man suspected of providing material support to al Qaeda has been transferred from military to civilian custody and charged in a two-count indictment.

President Obama had ordered a review of the status of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri leading to him being charged by the Justice Department.

Al-Marri, 43, is charged in a federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed today with providing material support to al Qaeda and conspiring with others to provide material support to the terrorist organization. If convicted, al-Marri, a dual national of Saudi Arabia and Qatar could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“This indictment shows our resolve to protect the American people and prosecute alleged terrorists to the full extent of the law,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “In this administration, we will hold accountable anyone who attempts to do harm to Americans and we will do so in a manner consistent with our values.”

On January 22, 2009, Obama ordered Holder to lead an inter agency review of the case against al-Marri, who was being held by the military. After the indictment was issued, the president ordered that al-Marri be transferred from the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina to the custody of the Justice Department to face criminal prosecution. President Bush had ordered al-Marri detained as an enemy combatant.

The change is a significant one because it brings into the open the treatment and prosecution of those charged with acts of terrorism or support of terrorism. Something Obama pledged to do during the campaign.

This is good news for the American people and those around the world who have been critical of the way the United States has, in the past, treated prisoners. It also assures those charged that they will enjoy a fair trial in the U.S. system of jurisprudence.

Some people fear that information that could be damaging to national security might be made public during trials in civilian criminal courts. But judges have the discretion to keep such critical information out of open court.

More importantly, the public will be educated about the threat that terrorists pose to the United States homeland. It's important that we remain vigilant against the possibility of terrorism and supportive of efforts to prevent additional terrorist attacks both in the United States and abroad.

Al-Marri entered the United States on September 10, 2001, purportedly to pursue a second bachelor’s degree at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. He was held as a material witness in the investigation of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was then indicted in by a grand jury on charges of credit card fraud, false statements and identity fraud. But in June, 2003, President Bush declared him an enemy combatant and he was transferred to the Naval Brig where he has been detained since.

We talk about these issues and more weekdays at 5 PM on News Talk Online on


Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks our criminal justice can't handle the most serious of Bad Guys need only watch a few episodes of MSNBC's "Lockup." Moreover, our courts are in fact up to the task of trying these people. I am really tired of the lame CODE BROWN canard that all of these "terror suspects" are 50 ft tall and have 6 inch fangs and are far too dangerous to deal with properly.

From what I've heard of the Al-Marri case (e.g., a recent Jane Meyer interview on NPR), they have a lot of solid tangible evidence against him, and he's overwhelmingly likely to be easily convicted and banished to a Super-Max.

Anonymous said...

It's about time! The man's bizarre incarceration was a greater blow to our Constitution than to him. Now let's get on with a trial and rebuild our democracy.

Hawley Roddick

Anonymous said...

the criminal justice system can't handle "terrorists" because most are only guilty of "middle eastern appearance".

now, with a defense of being tortured into false self incrimination, even genuine militants may escape if they are put in front of a real court. the bush regime was criminal, and not even competent in realizing their evil dreams of omnipotence.

anyone who voted for these men, should never vote again, as an act of contrition.

al loomis

Anonymous said...

I am sure these terrorist will get off with some technicality. Rights violated or some BS like that. This is what the Americans voted for so let them have them running the streets of America again. Oh and they can collect food stamps and get housing vouchers and free medical care. YEAH Thats the American way. What a joke!

William T. said...

God bless the ACLU, someone needs to get all the terrorists out of jail and back on the streets again! Have you seen the list of names and social security numbers that al-Marri had in his apartment? The banks in the U.S. are going to fail anyway...what's so bad about releasing one hacker to help the process along? Bernie Madoff eat your heart out, you've got competition.

Vandenplas84 said...

One of the things I agree with on obama here. We are better than the muslims and locking people up without trial goes back to the internment days which even under the uk in northern Island was wrong. We should follow Israels example of taking the main guys out and locking up the small fry. A fair trial to all and releasing people where necessary is every human right. If our governments are going to treat the muslims as humans then unfortunatly we will have to release the most dangerous people in the world. Firm evidense should be presented even in a closed court. Next time we come up against them, an arrest will be not an option.