Al-Marri Will Face Trial

Good news:

“Federal prosecutors are preparing to charge Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri with providing material support to al-Qaeda terrorists in a groundbreaking move that would put the alleged sleeper agent under the jurisdiction of the U.S. court system, according to sources familiar with the issue.

Indicting Marri in a federal court marks a significant change from the policies of the Bush administration, which had argued that al-Marri should be tried in a military tribunal proceeding and that he could not use American courts to contest his legal status.

Marri is the last remaining “enemy combatant” in the United States and has spent 5 1/2 years in a military brig in South Carolina. The criminal charges, which sources said also could include conspiracy, will be among the most early and critical signals about the Obama administration’s approach to handling alleged terrorism suspects.”

One more person moved out of legal limbo and into our normal court system. One less person about whom people could argue that he somehow must be tried under a whole new legal system, those that have served us well for over two centuries being somehow inadequate to his case. And one less blot on our commitment to the rule of law.


UPDATE: Jane Mayer reports that al-Marri has been indicted, and adds:

“An indictment would signal a major shift in legal policy from the Bush years. It would also fulfill President Obama’s campaign pledge to restore traditional American legal practices by treating terror suspects as common criminals, rather than stripping them of standard legal rights and classifying them neither as criminal defendants nor prisoners of war.”

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