ZAZI TO PLEAD GUILTY…. I’m sure these encouraging developments will draw criticism from conservatives; I just can’t quite figure out why.

Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan immigrant who was a key player in what the federal authorities have said was one of the most serious threats to the United States since the 9/11 attacks, is expected to plead guilty to terrorism charges this afternoon, a law enforcement official said.

Mr. Zazi is scheduled to appear before Judge Raymond J. Dearie at Federal District Court in Brooklyn at 2:30 p.m. to plead guilty conspiracy to detonate bombs in the United States, according to the official. […]

Mr. Zazi, who was born in Afghanistan and was raised in Pakistan and later Flushing, Queens, where he attended high school, was working as an airport shuttle driver in Denver when he was arrested in September 2009.

The federal authorities said he had received weapons and explosives training at a Qaeda camp in Pakistan, bought beauty products that contained the raw materials to build a bomb and traveled to Queens with bomb-making instructions in his laptop on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

His arrest was one of the key national security/law enforcement success stories of the last year, which reportedly is paying dividends beyond just preventing a deadly attack — Zazi is apparently cooperating with officials and providing intelligence as part of his plea agreement.

Indeed, Zazi has been sharing quite a bit of late, talking not only about his activities, but also his training, his accomplices, and his associations overseas.

U.S. officials now have all of this information without torturing Zazi, and without throwing him in Gitmo.

Indeed, Josh Marshall noted today, “One of the things that never gets mentioned in the endless praise of military tribunals is that their actual record is really bad.” So true.

The Zazi case is a textbook example of a process that works — and it works because it ignores the hysterical cries of Republican hacks. Here’s a case in which we stopped a terrorist through law enforcement and intelligence gathering (which the GOP considers an example of “weakness”), read him his rights and gave him a lawyer (which, again, the GOP finds offensive), gained valuable information through torture-free questioning (which the GOP seems to think is impossible), brought him to a civilian courtroom (another thing the GOP finds outrageous), and will soon lock him up in an American prison (which the GOP considers dangerous for some reason).

By any reasonable measure, the only people who find Republicans credible on these issues are those who aren’t paying attention.

Post Script: I should note that if the White House wanted to shamelessly exploit this success story to prove a larger point, it’d be just fine with me.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.