This topic addresses some of the significant legal and civic issues raised by America's prosecution of terrorism

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1 What is terrorism? Most experts acknowledge that there has been no consensus definition, although this does not mean that there has been any lack of definitions offered. Noting that efforts to establish an internationally acceptable definition of terrorism date back to the League of Nations in the 1930s, a United Nations report concludes, "The lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism has been a major obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures." For many Americans, the attacks on September 11, 2001 have resulted in an unprecedented sense of urgency, a demand that the issues presented by international terrorism and its prosecution must now be addressed. They may also be bringing about a new understanding of America's place in the world today, a global era of interdependent networks. This topic addresses some of the significant legal and civic issues raised by America's prosecution of terrorism Starter 1: Statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, November 18, 1999 Starter 2: November 26, 2001 letter sent from U.S. attorneys to 560 men from Middle Eastern countries residing in Michigan Starter 3: Excerpt from 1865 attorney general's opinion on use of military tribunals to try suspected assassins of President Lincoln Starter 4: "Spain: No rift over terror suspects," CNN Online November 28, 2001 news report Note: The views expressed here have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, and accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association, nor do they represent the official position or policies of the ABA Standing Committee on Public Education. Page 1

2 Starter 1 for Prosecuting Terrorism at Home and Abroad Issue What is the appropriate response to terrorism? Starter "We are all determined to fight terrorism and to do our utmost to banish it from the face of the earth. But the force we use to fight it should always be proportional and focused on the actual terrorists. We cannot and must not fight them by using their own methods-by inflicting indiscriminate violence and terror on innocent civilians, including children." Statement by Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, November 18, 1999 Quoted on the website of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention Focus Questions Do you agree or disagree with Kofi Annan's statement about "proportional and focused" anti-terrorism efforts? In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, how, if at all, has your perspective on, and assessment of, Kofi Annan's statement changed? Why? Do you think it is possible to "banish [terrorism] from the face of the earth"? Why or why not? Suggested Resources Biography of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Further information on the United Nations BBC News Feature on What is Terrorism? Page 2

3 Starter 2 for Prosecuting Terrorism at Home and Abroad Issue How should we identify suspected terrorists at home? Starter "As you know, law enforcement officers and federal agents have been acquiring information that may be helpful in determining the persons responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Furthermore, they are pursuing all leads that may assist in preventing any further attacks. I am asking that you assist us in this important investigation. Your name was brought to our attention because, among other things, you came to Michigan on a visa from a country where there are groups that support, advocate, or finance international terrorism. We have no reason to believe that you are, in any way, associated with terrorist activities. Nevertheless, you may know something that could be helpful in our efforts. In fact, it is quite possible that you have information that may seem irrelevant to you but which may help us piece together this puzzle. Please contact my office to set up an interview at a location, date, and time that is convenient for you. During this interview, you will be asked questions that could reasonably assist us in the efforts to learn about those who support, commit, or associate with persons who commit terrorism. While this interview is voluntary, it is crucial that the investigation be broad-based and thorough, and the interview is important to achieve that goal. We need to hear from you as soon as possible-by December 4. Please call my office between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm any day, including Saturday and Sunday. We will work with you to accommodate your schedule." Text of letter sent from U.S. attorneys to approximately 560 men from Middle Eastern countries residing in the eastern half of Michigan, complying with an order from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (November 26, 2001) Focus Questions What would be your reaction if you received this letter? What would you do in response? Page 3

4 Do you see this letter as a form of racial or ethnic profiling? Do you see this as a necessary action in prosecuting America's domestic war on terrorism? Why or why not? Suggested Resources The New Face of Racial Profiling: How Terrorism Affects the Debate by Rutgers Law School Professor Sherry Colb Arabs Fear That Cooperation Could Be Costly, USA Today news story on intention of U.S. Justice Department s intention to question Middle Eastern men in the country on temporary visas. U.S. Attorney Says Terrorism Probes Are Fair, Detroit News, comments from U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins. Immigration and Naturalization Service website providing general information and requirements for temporary visitors to the United States. Page 4

5 Starter 3 for Prosecuting Terrorism at Home and Abroad Issue Can the use of military tribunals be justified in a time of crisis? Starter Excerpted from Opinion on the Constitutional Power of the Military to Try and Execute the Assassins of the President by Attorney General James Speed (July 1865) [John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was killed during his capture. After Lincoln's assassination, hundreds of suspected conspirators were arrested. Most were soon released due to lack of evidence. The federal government did charge eight of the suspects with conspiracy in the plot to assassinate Lincoln and other high government officials. President Andrew Johnson ordered the accused to be tried before a military commission, presided over by the judge advocate general of the U.S. Army. The trial lasted seven weeks. All eight of the accused were found guilty. Four were hanged a week after the end of the trial, including Mary Surratt, the owner of a boardinghouse where it was alleged that Booth had met with co-conspirators. The other four were sentenced to prison terms, three for life terms. One died in prison in The other three, including Dr. Samuel Mudd-who had set Booth's leg after his escape from Ford's Theater-were pardoned by President Johnson in 1869.] "Sir: You ask me whether the persons charged with the offense of having assassinated the President can be tried before a military tribunal, or must they be tried before a civil court. The President was assassinated at a theater in the city of Washington. At the time of the assassination a civil war was flagrant, the city of Washington was defended by fortifications regularly and constantly manned, the principal police of the city was by Federal soldiers, and the public offices and property in the city were all guarded by soldiers, and the President's House and person were, or should have been, under the guard of soldiers. Martial law had been declared in the District of Columbia, but the civil courts were open and held their regular sessions, and transacted business as in times of peace. Such being the facts, the question is one of great importance-important, because it involves the constitutional guarantees thrown about the rights of the citizen, and because Page 5

6 the security of the army and government in time of war is involved; important, as it involves a seeming conflict between the laws of peace and of war. Having given the question propounded the patient and earnest consideration its magnitude and importance require, I will proceed to give the reasons why I am of the opinion that the conspirators not only may but ought to be tried by a military tribunal." Focus Questions What is Speed's argument why Lincoln's assassins should be tried before a military tribunal rather than a civilian criminal court? Do you agree? Why or why not? What do you think of the idea of using military tribunals to prosecute our current war on terrorism? Under what conditions and circumstances, and for whom, do you think it is necessary? Just? What is war? How is it different from peace? When is wartime? How is it a different time than that of peace? Suggested Resources Lincoln/Net is an extensive online archival resource of the writings, life, and times of Abraham Lincoln. Also includes interpretive materials and lesson plans for teachers. Sponsored by Northern Illinois University. Swift and Terrible: A Military Tribunal Rushed to Convict After Lincoln s Murder Washington Post special feature on the trial of the alleged conspirators in President Lincoln s assassination Trial of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators, part of The Famous American Trials website, developed by Prof. Douglas Linder of the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law. Page 6

7 Starter 4 for Prosecuting Terrorism at Home and Abroad Issue How might our domestic policies affect our ability to prosecute terrorism abroad? Starter Spain: No rift over terror suspects November 28, 2001 Washington (CNN) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar downplayed suggestions of a rift with the U.S. on Wednesday as he said his country would consider any extradition request for suspects arrested in connection with the terrorism investigation. Aznar said the United States has not submitted any extradition request for any suspected al Qaeda members. There has been speculation that the U.S. death penalty and President George W. Bush's proposal to use military tribunals for terrorism suspects could be stumbling blocks to extradition. "If and when the United States requests that extradition, we will study it," Aznar said at the White House, where he met Bush on Wednesday. Speaking through a translator, Aznar said any extradition request would be reviewed "with full respect of Spanish and United States law." He said the issue is also being studied at the European Union. Aznar emphasized the "full" cooperation between the United States and Spain in fighting terrorism, but he did not specifically endorse the Bush administration's decision to allow the use of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists who are not U.S. citizens. Fourteen people have been arrested in Spain since the September 11 terrorist attacks. A judge has charged that eight of them have ties to al Qaeda-the network headed by alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden-and were involved in the attacks. A Spanish court official confirmed to CNN that extradition might be difficult because of the death penalty in the United States, which does not exist in Spain, as well as the military tribunals, which would provide fewer guarantees to the accused than are normally provided in Spanish courts. Page 7

8 Like Aznar, Bush downplayed reports of any differences, saying Spain has been "incredibly helpful" to the United States in the war on terrorism. Focus Questions --CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman contributed to this report. Why do you think Spain and other European Union nations might be reluctant to extradite suspected international terrorists to the United States? Do you think they are justified? What would be the consequences? What do you think Spanish Prime Minister Aznar meant when he said that, "Any action taken on the extradition issue will be taken with full respect of Spanish and United States law"? Do you think this can be accomplished? If there is a conflict, how do you think it should be resolved? To what extent do you think the United States will be able to "go it alone" in prosecuting international terrorism? To what extent should the United States act unilaterally in this effort? Why? Suggested Resources CNN online December 2001 news story on U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft meeting with Spanish officials to discuss international cooperation in counterterrorism efforts. CNN Newsmaker Profile of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar Lopez Extradition defined, with topical links. Page 8

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