December 29th, 2009
06:32 PM ET

Toobin: Civilian courts likely to handle bomb case


The 23-year-old Nigerian man who has been charged with attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound international flight on Christmas Day is likely to be treated as a regular criminal defendant, according to CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Toobin spoke with CNN on Tuesday:

CNN: What's in store for the defendant?

Jeffrey Toobin: He's entitled to a jury trial like any other criminal defendant.

CNN: Does it make a difference that he's not an American citizen?

Toobin: The fact that he's not a citizen makes no difference. He has the same rights as any other criminal defendant, citizen or non-citizen.

CNN: What happens if it's shown that he acted on behalf of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claimed responsibility for the incident?

Toobin: The legal system has already proven that it can deal with cases involving al Qaeda. Zacarias Moussaoui was obviously connected to al Qaeda in some way, and he's already been sentenced.

I don't see any basis for treating this guy differently than Richard Reid, who was promptly and successfully prosecuted in a civilian court. Moving him into a military tribunal would add tremendous legal uncertainty, because there hasn't been a successful military tribunal, one which has been upheld by the courts, since World War II.

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Filed under: Crime • Jeffrey Toobin • Terrorism
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Cecil

    The problem with our civilian courts is that there will be delays that will hinder the investigating of the terriorist. Most useful information needs to gathered immediately and without the roadblocks that his defense attorneys will erect. Terriorist do not deserve the consideration that we give American criminals.

    December 29, 2009 at 9:31 pm |
  2. Linda B., Ga.

    I say skip the expense of the court system and send him straight to jail without collecting his $200. Heck we know he did it anyways, so he's already guilty.

    December 29, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
  3. Tim Gibson

    These people are not civilians, they are terrorist in war of jihad, a war against America, a war against our people and our way of life and as such should be placed into military tribunal.

    Being PC is a mark on the con list and not proactive in addressing the problem.

    December 29, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  4. patrick

    Why dd the CIA not do anything with the information passed on by the terrorist's father to them? because of the unbearable arrogance of American Officials who feel they know it all and therefore feel they have no use of Information from an African.This same insensitivity is reflected all the time around the world in the way they treat others.

    December 29, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  5. alicenyc

    I agree that these people should be in ivilian ourts, they are common criminals and should be treated that way. They probrably want a military tribunial so they can pretend to be part of a legitimate group. No try them in our court system and let amerian citizens judge them and punish them.

    December 29, 2009 at 7:48 pm |
  6. James

    I will don't understand how come my mother traveling form JFK to Orlando, Florida with and expired state ID was put into a isolated room a search from top to bottom and this terrorism had to problem to get on the fly. go figure

    December 29, 2009 at 7:20 pm |