The Case of Aafia Siddiqui

THE CASE OF AAFIA SIDDIQUI…. Marc Ambinder highlights an important court case that went entirely overlooked last week, but which matters quite a bit.

Last week, as Republicans ratcheted up their criticism of the administration’s counterterrorism framework, a jury in the Southern District of New York quietly convicted a woman named Aafia Siddiqui on charges related to the attempted murder of U.S. soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan. She faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

What makes Siddiqui’s conviction relevant for the current debate is that she was captured, on a recognized battlefield — Afghanistan — and tried to kill FBI agents and American soldiers who had come to question her. Siddiqui, 40, could easily have been designated as an enemy combatant. But the Bush administration determined instead that she be tried in federal court. She was read her Miranda rights, and given access to a lawyer.

Afghanistan police arrested her in July 2008 — she was reportedly loitering nearby a sensitive facility — and Siddiqui was found to have materials suggesting an intention to commit acts of large-scale terrorism in the United States, including documents that referenced the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building.

When U.S. military interrogators and FBI agents sought to interview her, Siddiqui opened fire on the Americans, one of whom returned fire and wounded her. She was treated by Americans in a U.S. military hospital, transferred to American soil, arraigned in New York, charged as a terrorist.

Last week, Siddiqui was convicted, and will no doubt spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Republicans haven’t said a word about this, but based on their increasingly stupid rhetoric, this series of events is not only outrageous, but actually dangerous. By GOP standards, Bush administration officials “imported” a foreign terrorist to American soil, and will now transfer said terrorist to an “American community.”

So, here’s the invitation: go ahead, Republicans, tell us how awful last week’s conviction was. We’re waiting.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.