Editorials

Terror suspects can be tried right here

OK everybody, calm down. Contrary to what four of our state's top politicians would have you believe, a pair of terrorism suspects arrested in Bowling Green can be tried here without harming Kentuckians.

In fact, a decade of experience tells us that conceding to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's demand that the two be moved to Guantanamo would be riskier and costlier than trying them here.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 400 suspects have been convicted of terrorism or national security crimes in courthouses across the United States.

Not once has there been an escape or a retaliatory attack on anyone or any place.

Not once has a suspect of any nationality arrested in the U. S. been sent to Guantanamo or tried in a military tribunal. That's probably a good thing. The tribunals favored by McConnell are part of a new and untested system that has convicted just six terrorists, two of whom are already free.

It's unclear the law would allow what McConnell is demanding, which means the legal costs and delays would be enormous if the government took his advice.

In short, McConnell is blowing smoke for political purposes and showing that he will stoop to demagogue anything, even U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.

Predictably, Republican gubernatorial nominee David Williams joined in the hysteria.

This fits into his strategy of making President Barack Obama the central theme in the race for governor. Williams is appealing to voters' fears and trying to paint Democrats as indecisive friends of terrorists.

Challenged by Williams, Gov. Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, both Democrats, put out statements appearing to agree with McConnell, though they stopped short of issuing any demands.

Both Beshear and Stumbo have served as attorney general, so their acquiescence can't be blamed on lack of understanding, leaving one possibility: They're wimps.

Beshear and Stumbo are afraid to stand up to the demagoguery and proclaim their confidence in U.S. attorneys, courts and the Marshal Service which provides security at federal trials. They're afraid to say that one of the things that makes this country great is that even scary people are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial.

It is alarming to think that asylum was granted to an Iraqi national whose fingerprints were on a bomb used against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and who bragged about killing Americans.

It's frightening to think of Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Shareef Hammadi, 23, plotting in Kentucky to send weapons to Iraq to be used against Americans, even though, in reality, they were plotting with a federal informant as part of an FBI sting.

The gap in screening that allowed Alwan into the country, despite his fingerprints on a bomb part, has since been closed.

McConnell's claims that this case is unique are wrong; enemy combatants from foreign battlefields have been prosecuted in U.S. courts.

The military worked with the Justice Department on this case, and even McConnell says Justice has done a great job; yet he does not trust it to finish the job.

The Bowling Green case reminds us that Kentucky is part of a big world that's often scary. To frighten people unnecessarily in such a world is irresponsible. Doing it for politics is sick.

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