Lessons From the Times Square Bomber

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This week’s sentencing of failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad to life imprisonment would seem to offer little evidence that civilian courts are the ideal battleground to fight jihadist terrorism.

After all, the swift outcome to Shahzad’s trial owes less to the choice of venue than to the Pakistani-born Shahzad’s unapologetic commitment to the terrorist cause. That commitment prompted him not only to offer a forthright confession of his botched attempt to explode a bomb-laden van in New York City and to cooperate with authorities but also to plead guilty to the charges against him and even to issue a parting declaration of war against non-Muslims at his sentencing.

Yet, Shahzad’s zeal to claim credit for his attempted crime cannot disguise the fact that the proceedings could have gone very differently. Like his predecessor Zacarias Moussaoui, who made a mockery of his five-year trial prior to his eventual sentencing in 2006, Shahzad could well have chosen to stymie prosecutors and to draw out the case for years. That he didn’t is a testament to prosecutors’ by-no-means-reliable good fortune in this case.

It’s nothing short of bizarre then that the New York Times would seize on this week’s fortuitous result as a vindication of the criminal justice approach favored by the Left and partially endorsed by the Obama administration. In the Times’ judgment, that approach is self-evidently superior to the military commissions system put in place by the Bush administration and kept in place, with less fanfare, by President Obama.

Supposedly, Shahzad’s case confirms the wisdom of the former approach. As the Times tells it, Shahzad was arrested, read his Miranda rights, then cooperated with investigators and entered a guilty plea with a mandatory life sentence. “All of this happened without the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department breaking laws or violating Constitutional protections,” the Times gleefully editorializes.

That summary of the case may be flattering to the paper’s politics, but it is also blatantly revisionist. In fact, Shahzad was not initially read his Miranda rights. Instead, he was questioned by authorities under the public safety exception to the Miranda rule. Only once he supplied what authorities later called “valuable intelligence and evidence” – and only once it became clear that he would continue to do so – did they finally grant him Miranda rights. It’s fortunate that in the event he did choose to cooperate with authorities, but in no way does that bolster the Times’ preferred strategy for fighting terror. As former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy has repeatedly pointed out, more often than not terrorist suspects choose not to cooperate with authorities once presented with that option.

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  • bubba4

    Nothing will please you.

    He's convicted and you want to focus on how bad it could have been if such in such….
    Pretty unAmerican of ya. If you want torture to be the law of the land move to Uzbekistan.

    • watchful

      What article did you read?

    • sebyandrew

      That is like saying you cd. cure my cancer but remission will have to do.

    • USMCSniper

      I yould haf had Mister Creasy question him. heh heh heh

      • BS77

        Yeah, Man on Fire……then push the car over the cliff. Yow

  • Rifleman

    They sentenced the Lockerbie bomber to 'life' as well, didn't they? How'd that work out?

    It's stupid to the point of insanity to give enemy illegal combatants caught attempting and even committing the mass murder of civilians a civilian trial. The sad truth is that we do it because using illegal combatants and terror are doctrinal tactics of communists. What did we see at democrat rallies? Commies.

  • kafir4life

    Chuckles Schumer, the capo senator from NY said this:
    "Today’s sentence sends a clear and unequivocal message to those who seek to do us harm—our justice system is swift and strong," Schumer said Tuesday. "Let this be a warning to others who would attempt to attack us: you will be caught, you will be held to account, and justice will be brought down upon you."

    What Capo Chuckles gave assurances that there would be no attempts to prevent any attacks (the Dems need them in preparation for martial law sometime before the 2012 elections, which president barry will declare until "cooler heads prevail", when he "postpones" the general election. He realizes a Chavez-esque scenario is the only way he holds power past January 21st, 2013.

    • BS77

      "our justice is swift and sure" hahahahahaaa……look at the Gitmo vermin…some of them have been in pre trial mode for over seven years……military tribunal? civilian trial? who knows. The war in Afghanistan has been going on twice as long as WW II……what is wrong with this picture?

  • stephencuz

    I don't know…sounds like fiddles playing and I …smell…smoke.

  • VonSchtead

    "Life without parole"? How many "life without parole" murderers are walking the streets right now? Look at Trantino in New Jersey. Killed 2 cops, was given the death penelty which was changed to "life without parole" and was released a few years ago.

    How about "Death without parole" instead?

  • tanstaafl

    We are at war. This "man" is a soldier of Allah. Would we allow a Nazi spy in America during World War II to have a civilian trial in a public courtroom? The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

    • bubba4

      no, after WWII, the Nazis were tried in an International Court

  • BS77

    Life without parole? It will cost millions to house, feed, guard and supervise this dirt bag for another fifty years. LIberals are groveling idiots…..This jihadist foreign ununiformed armed combatant was intent on KILLING lots of people in Times Square. He did not only pre meditate the act, but actually lit the fuses on his crude bomb……. Justice: use the firing squad…end of story for this waste of oxygen. Military justice for the rest of the Gitmo vermin.

    • Dan

      Not counting the Islamist he will convert in Jail for 50 years, insane justice

  • waterwillows

    I was just over at Bare Naked Islam, it is a website that has a video of western men joining theTaliban and recruiting others to join them.
    Personally, I feel the looney left and their crazy appeasement policies are what finally drove these men to join. I fiqure they would like the elites do kiss their butt as well.
    Problem is, the looney left's encouragement of Islam to our young men, will wind up with our own men killing the elites, and then further appeasement after they do.
    They have turned the world upside down and get crazier by the day. When will they learn?

  • BS77

    When armed non uniformed combatant saboteurs from Germany were caught during WW II….along the east coast…..FDR had them executed without fanfare. FDR was a tough guy and didn't feel compelled to try these sacks of excrement in civilian courts. Would that we had some Pattons and Eisenhowers around today.

  • Chezwick_Mac

    One need not confine oneself to revisiting the OJ trial in order to highlight the profound failings in the American legal system. How about the trial El Sayyid Nosair, who murdered Meir Kahane on a busy New York City street 20 years ago? Multiple witnesses saw him standing above the body after hearing the shots that killed Kahane. Some gave chase and Nosair again fired the murder weapon at his pursuers. He was eventually captured in possession of the gun. And yet at his trial, with such a preponderance of evidence that conviction was considered a certainty, his slick lawyer weaved an improbable tale of international intrigue and subterfuge, in which Nosair was mistakenly fingered as a hapless fall guy. All that was needed was one gullible jurist and lo and behold, the jury deadlocked.

    Nosair WAS convicted of gun charges and eventually implicated himself in Kahane's murder during monitored conversations with radical Muslim visitors to his prison. The point is, the civilian jury system is simply not capable of handling terrorist cases. One recalcitrant jurist with an agenda can thwart the dispensation of justice in America. When someone like OJ walks, it's bad enough. But for a terrorist to walk, the message is out: "It's open season on America!"

    Also, with a growing Muslim population, will it be possible to keep Muslims off juries trying terror cases without cries of discrimination? If not, where will their loyalties lie? Security concerns and the other factors mentioned above DEMAND military trials for terror suspects. The stakes are just too damned high.

    • http://www.myspace.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

      The system will not work and yes with massive moves into the USA By muslims it at some point will be political Impossible to win in any court against jihadists here inside the usa In fact we may as well start calling our country the Former USA. AND ALL Muslims loyalties are understood to be only to other muslims so the religion of murder in peace will someday come for any who do not twist over to evil.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    The lesson that should be learned is no matter how many hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on national security to protect ourselves from Islamic terrorist attacks, as long as we allow mass Muhammadan immigration into the USA they will be able to attack us at will. We could easily virtually eliminate all threat of Islamic terrorist attacks overnight by simply banning and reversing Muhammadan immigration and the excess baggage that goes along with it. Then we could use all the hundreds of billions of dollars we are currently spending on national security to continue accommodating Muhammadan mass immigration to pay down the national debt instead or to help eliminate the massive budget deficits we are running.

    By the way, when was the American people’s consent ever sought to allow mass Muhammadan immigration? Were we ever asked if it was okay? Who made that decision for us? I mean if it is going to cost us hundreds of billions of dollars just to accommodate mass Muhammadan immigration and its excess baggage, a loss of freedom because Islamic jihadists will inevitably threaten and attempt to kill every Americans that makes the mistake of insulting Islam or speaking out against it, and because we will have to also endure more and more domestic Islamic terror attacks as the population of Muhammadans increases, why wasn’t our consent and permission ever sought beforehand since the changes to our society will be so profound?

    • bubba4

      WTF are you even talking about?

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Don't worry about it Bubba, it's above your pay grade.

  • Andres de Alamaya

    Since it is the ambition of intifada to put us all under Sharia law it might be appropriate to give wannabe terrorists trials under their own law which would probably involve decapitation or stoning to death.

  • BS77

    The West has gone soft and weak… Look at the obese couch potatoes playing video games instead of being self reliant frontier tough men and women like our grand and great grandparents. WHy are we permitting the influx of a system that is completely contrary to our Constitution and way of life? Just watch The Stoning of Soraya M …try to grasp what kind of hideous ideology we are playing games with. Thank GOd for our Seals, Marines, Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force and EM workers….Learn self reliance for the coming tough times. You think times are tough now?