By NSJ Staff Writer
Today’s Wall Street Journal features an op-ed from former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in which he argues that alleged terrorist detainees should not be tried in US civilian courts. In particular, Mukasey criticizes Attorney General Holder’s August decision to try Ahmed Ghailani in New York rather than Guantanamo for the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Ghailani was only captured in 2004 after the US invaded Afghanistan, but he had already been indicted in New York in 1998, providing Holder with an opportunity to test the trial of terrorist detainees in civilian court.
As a District Court judge in 1995, Mukasey presided over the trial of a multidefendant terrorist conspiracy, a trial which Mukasey thinks was less than successful from the standpoint of America’s national security. Among other drawbacks of trying the Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts, Mukasey cites the inability to limit discovery, secure witnesses, and keep trials to a reasonable length, as well as the difficulty of imposing the death penalty.