Monday, January 11, 2010

Underwear Guy "All Lawyered Up"

Well well well... The only thing the rabid right wing mouthpieces have been screaming about lately is whether or not the Nigerian Exploding Underwear Guy should have been tried in a military or civilian court. They claim he's being treated "like an American citizen!" because he's being tried in the American criminal justice system. "That's outrageous!" they scream.

Never mind the fact that George Bush's Shoe Bomber was also tried in exactly the same way -- in the criminal justice system. Never mind the fact that both slipped through the cracks and both were taken down by civilians on their respective planes. Oh no, this is much, much worse, according to the crazy far right, because Obama is the president.

But is there a big difference between the military and civilian court? Apparently not, according to James Cullen, a retired brigadier general who served as a JAG officer.

From the Huffington Post:

There are narrow differences between the legal and interrogation proceedings Abdulmutallab was subjected to and those which would have happened in a military commission.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the suspect would have been granted access to a lawyer if he had been put in a military system. In fact, he may have had easier access to an attorney.

"The military is not some type of Soviet show-trial kangaroo court," said Cullen. "Absolutely he would have gotten a lawyer."

Even in a civil system, authorities can question a suspect without reading them their Miranda rights for a limited amount of time as long as there is "no intention to try the person" and it is "purely for intelligence purposes." This is little different than in a military setting, where -- if the detaining authority wants to prosecute the detainee -- the impetus is on bringing legal counsel into the equation early on. "If you want to prosecute you can't foul up the process," explained Cullen.

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