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Use International Tribunals for Terrorists

April 04, 2002

In "Civilian Courts Give Terrorists Far Too Many Loopholes" (Commentary, March 31), lawyer Spencer J. Crona and prosecutor Neal A. Richardson insist that Zacarias Moussaoui (the alleged 20th hijacker), Richard Reid (the alleged shoe bomber), Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh (the alleged mastermind of the killing of Daniel Pearl) and the Al Qaeda detainees in Guantanamo Bay should all be tried for "war crimes under international law" before the military commissions being created by the Pentagon.

But Crona and Richardson seem oblivious to the fact that "war crimes under international law" are tried in international courts such as the ones impaneled to try Slobodan Milosevic and those accused of war crimes in Rwanda.

The wisdom of using international tribunals instead of makeshift military commissions (which have been criticized by the American Bar Assn., Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International) is dramatically confirmed by Crona and Richardson themselves, who applaud the "swiftness and certainty" of military commissions in "prosecuting the guilty." International war crimes tribunals exist to ensure that a nation at war does not indulge in the dangerous presumption of "guilty until proven innocent."

Stephen F. Rohde

Los Angeles

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Re "U.S. Will Seek Death for Sept. 11 Suspect," March 29: Having had the privilege of serving as judge, jury and executioner on other occasions, I would like to offer my services to dispose of Al Qaeda terrorist Moussaoui. Over Iwo Jima on Nov. 7, 1944, when that Japanese Zero came after my B-24 bomber, I didn't worry for a moment about reading him his rights or asking his intentions. I just drew a bead on him and shot him down.

I fail to understand those who propose to keep this monster alive and spend the time and money on a trial. His friends, whom he would have joined on their flights if he had not been previously detained, certainly did not offer any kind of mercy to the thousands who died on Sept. 11.

Like the Japanese pilot who attacked my plane, he chose to involve himself in an act of war and he deserves to suffer the consequences. Please advise me how I can volunteer again to act in defense of my country.

Thomas W. McCarthy

Chino Hills

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Let me see if I got this right. We catch a suicidal terrorist and we decide to execute him and that somehow will deter future attacks. That kind of logic could only have come directly from our president.

Joel C. Koury

Santa Monica

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