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  • The Law Enforcement Approach to Terrorists Poses Serious Challenges

    If the experience of our closest allies in the war against terrorists is any indication, taking a pure law enforcement approach is dangerous, ill-advised, and might not bear much fruit. In the United Kingdom, of the 1,471 individuals arrested for alleged terrorist acts since September 11, 2001, only 340 suspects were charged with a terrorism-related crime. Of those 340 charged, only 196 terrorists were convicted. That means that the UK only achieved a 14% conviction rate for terrorism-related crimes.

    Things aren’t any better in the Netherlands where of the 153 individuals arrested for terrorism-related crimes since 9/11, 44 individuals were charged and only 20 individuals were convicted of terrorism, or just 13%.

    There are several factors that make it more difficult to obtain convictions in terrorism cases. First, prosecutors must balance the protection of intelligence sources and means against the need to present evidence in the courtroom. This balance is why some suspects are released or charged with lesser offenses or non-terrorism offenses such as fraud. Next, unlike other crimes, once a potential terrorism plot is detected, it is a judgment call as to when the threat becomes a clear and present danger thereby forcing law enforcement to intercept the plot and arrest the suspected terrorists.

    If this judgment call is made too early, then the ability of law enforcement to collect and preserve the evidence needed to obtain a conviction can be compromised. Finally, there is a fine line between when actions are legally protected, such as the First Amendment protections around speech and association, and when actions are illegal, such as inciting violence or planning to commit a terrorist act. For juries, deciding beyond a reasonable doubt when a defendant crossed over the razor’s edge to illegality can be incredibly hard to do. As the Obama Administration shifts how the U.S. deals with terrorists from a military standpoint to a law enforcement standpoint — the latest shift coming with the reading of Miranda Rights to terrorists in Afghanistan — learning lessons from the experiences of our closest allies would be prudent.

    If we fail to do so, especially as President Obama moves to close Gitmo and try many detainees in U.S. courtrooms, we run the risk of losing those court cases (failure to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt does not, therefore, mean that the defendant is in fact innocent) and watching as those who wish to harm us are freed and return to their Islamist terrorist ways.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to The Law Enforcement Approach to Terrorists Poses Serious Challenges

    1. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      Where are the mouths of the 9/11 commission members that were eager to find fault with anything Bush did in dealing with terrorism? It shows that despicable body was a political entity and couldn't care less about terrorism, per se.

      The path Obama is on will more than likely lead to another attack.

    2. James,Lawrenceville says:

      It's 6-6-1944.U.S troops have captured a high ranking German military officer in Normandy.Instead of seeking intel,that might give us an advantage,we tell this man you have the right to remain silent.He knows this already,but in wartime all avenues must be explored.I know the Miranda act didn't happen till 64,but wars abroad have no reflection on everyday crimes commmited in the U.S.This new policy of Mirandising enemy combatants is insane.If our country gets hit by another terrorist attack the blood will be on the Obama Admn.These fanatics only want 1 thing,to destroy America&the jews.No matter how much we and the hebrews try to appease,the radical muslims only want destruction of us.It seems our new admn.is either blind or indifferent to the plight of our brothers in Israel.I don't care what Rev.Wright thinks.He is a hate monger like white suprematist the other way.If anything Obama does not stand with Israel.Guess u got the jew thing wrong Wright.What happens over there happens but the seeds will be sown with our response.A nuclear Iran should and cannot happen.God help us all.

    3. James Raider, WA says:

      Obama has avoided the thorny details of assiduous analysis on the most critical problems facing America, and has used sweeping, but banal statements of obvious principals, while his appointees actually implement policies and programs inconsistent with the claims of the message. Now we have flip-flops upon flip-flops on detainees.

      http://pacificgatepost.blogspot.com/2009/06/does-

      Did America elect a monarch? … A President is still needed.

    4. Whicket Williams Kin says:

      How can a person outside the boundaries of the United States break the laws of the united states? I have not heard this question addressed by anybody. to my knowledge, I am the only person who has posed it. Any answer, anybody? reply to me directly, please, if you have the answer.

    5. Barb -mn says:

      I think I have an answer for you, Whicket. Obama uses United States laws at his convenience, to become world laws, to convenience his favorites.

    6. Andrew, Phoenix says:

      I am sick and tired of hearing "my administration inherited….) Mr. Obama wanted the job and now it is time to come off the campain trail and be President. His decisions continues to show, although he is a man of high intellect and great communicator his has basically run our country and weakened our defense system in only a little over 120 days? The 2010 election will be of extreme importance. We will need everyone's help. Call, or text every Congressional member not just those who are yours. Keep in mind they have egos want to be re-elected and many have ambitions higher than where they are. Volume and Respect will have a tremedous impact. Also call into the White House. This URL will help you http://www.foundry.org/2009/06/11/the-law-enfor

      You may need to cut and paste it in your browser.

    7. Andrew, Phoenix says:

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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