Friday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow attempted to calm Republican fears that trying a terrorist in a civilian court on U.S. soil will prove to be more than domestic security forces can handle. She reminded them of the U.S. District Court’s long history of convicting terror suspects and sending them away to life in prison.
The Republicans in Congress who are rushing to the media to express their outrage that Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is being tried in a civilian court, Maddow said, are getting their talking points straight from 2004.
She began by showing a map of lower Manhattan and rolling footage from the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, in which a truck bomb blew up in the parking garage underneath the building’s north tower.
“Almost two years to the day after that bombing,” she said, “U.S. officials tracked down the mastermind of that attack, a man named Ramzi Yousef.”
Yousef was captured in Islamabad, Pakistan and extradited to the U.S. for trial. The courtroom where he was put on trial was about 10 blocks, Maddow said, from where the crime took place, U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, in a civilian trial. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison at a “Supermax” prison in Colorado.
Similarly, Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheik” was tried and convicted in the same court for his role in plots to blow up New York City landmarks.
The U.S. District Court is “prolific” in the number of terrorism convictions it produces, she said. The prosecuting attorneys there are very good at what they do.
In January, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was captured in January and remanded to U.S. authorities in February. He was arraigned on Friday in Manhattan at the District Court and charged with conspiracy to kill Americans.
For certain Republicans in Congress, however, this is an outrage, that a terror suspect is being tried in federal court rather than at the offshore facility at Guantanamo. One by one, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY0, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) all took the airwaves and print media to denounce the Obama administration.
The Republicans argue that if Abu Ghaith is kept in federal custody in the U.S., he will refuse to talk and authorities will gain no new knowledge into possible terror plots against the country. Never mind, Maddow said, that since his arrest he had told federal investigators enough new information to fill a 22-page document.
“But, still,” she said, “Everybody freak out! Double Guantanamo! Maybe that’ll help you get re-elected if you ever have to get into a time machine and go back and get elected in 2004.”
Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below: