By Karen Greenberg

Can An American Jury Acquit A Terror Suspect?

December 24, 2011 6:53 am Category: Memo Pad, National News 8 Comments A+ / A-

This past Tuesday, a federal jury decided a terrorism case. And once again, the verdict is guilty. High profile terrorism cases, like the case of Tarek Mehanna, a 29-year-old American pharmacy school graduate who was on trial for providing material support to Al Qaeda operations and other terrorism charges because of his Internet writings and a trip to Yemen in 2004 (even though he never picked up a weapon or received any training), always end with a conviction.

In Mehanna’s case, the jury in Boston took more than a day to decide. His lawyers won some small victories – Mehanna’s parents stood by him with somber grace, a terrorism expert witness for the prosecution was shown to have received nearly $1 million in payments and nearly half his salary from government agencies in the past five years, and numerous specialists in counterterrorism (including former CIA case officer and NYPD advisor Marc Sagemen) testified for the defense – but none of it mattered. When a federal judge asks a jury to make a decision in a terrorism case, there is rarely an acquittal.

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Can An American Jury Acquit A Terror Suspect? Reviewed by on . This past Tuesday, a federal jury decided a terrorism case. And once again, the verdict is guilty. High profile terrorism cases, like the case of Tarek Mehanna, This past Tuesday, a federal jury decided a terrorism case. And once again, the verdict is guilty. High profile terrorism cases, like the case of Tarek Mehanna, Rating:

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Comments

  • B

    If you present certain scenarios to persons that could be construed as terrorist acts and those same people begin to act on those scenarios, does that not make those people terrorists? If you try to hire a hit man to off someone that you don’t like and find one, offer them money for the job and they accept it, does that not make them a murdered for hire?? If anyone takes the value of American lives and just turns them into a cause for a fanatical religious belief, then those people need to be treated as terrorists.

  • freethinker

    I note the hedging in phrases like, “rarely”, “can work”, etc. The problems overlooked by the article are the accused rights to call witnesses or present information that may be damaging to future or ongoing investigations. There is also that little matter of simply having one or more jurist on the panel who has an ax to grind, or dismissal on a technical point. Criminal trials for American citizens are one thing. Criminal justice trials for non-citizens is quite another. You might feel relatively safe when a Casey Anthony beats the system. Would you feel the same about a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Is it ok for Americans to become victims of a released terrorist so long as your personal sense of justice has been satisfied?

  • VincentReno

    In reference to the NDAA act, I am really just wondering as Bush to eloquently stated who is the decision maker in these cases of “Suspected Terrorists”? My fear is that some politician will find a particular person or group that they feel threatened by or simply do not like, and accuse them of being a terrorist or having terrorists ties.

    That may sound far fetched, but keep this in mind, just about any homeowner who does his own work around the house has lawn fertilizer, and a variety of other chemicals that can be called bomb making materials , the accused person would have no chance for a defense. It leaves a lot of room for abuse, and human nature and history tells me that this will happen.

    So where does it start and where does it end? I worked as a contractor in Afghanistan, I call my friends (Americans) over there for job contact info,really sometimes just to say hello. So if someone in power didn’t like me, they could pull me phone records and say this guy calls people in Afghanistan and in theory I could be called a suspected terrorist. Being detained without having access to a lawyer that can research the numbers called and realize that they are American Contractors, I could sit in a jail for months even years before someone decided to dig into the accusation.

    I hope and pray that the officials in power don’t go overboard and start accusing Americans (or anybody else for that matter) just to get them out of the way.

  • GrevilleLiburd

    On balance, I would say the justice system works, being held in check both by the force of public opinion, and powerful leverage of transparency provided by the free American press and free speech. I notice also that the influence of our intricate but effective system of justice has begun mightily to take roots overseas as well.

  • LuciusFieldon

    That is the reason why they want to have a military tribunal and not a courtroom trial.

  • Pableau

    B, your comment < > makes me wonder if the US government/military aren’t doing just that, using American lives (soldiers and innocent civilians) not in service to a stated religious cause per se, but in the fanatical pursuit of power and wealth, then would make them terrorists too…right?

  • Mick Robinson

    B – Does that apply to the ‘religious right’ too?

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