Commentary Magazine


Joe Sestak Wants Terrorists Tried in Open Court

As troubling as Joe Sestak’s stance on Israel may be, a potentially more potent issue with the general electorate in Pennsylvania may be his support for the idea of trying terrorists in federal courts. Sestak hasn’t been shy in voicing his views. He explained in a CNN interview last November:

Well, I was stationed at the Pentagon when 9/11 happened. Right after that, I took over the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit, where we shaped the policies to pursue al Qaeda. I went on the ground earlier in that war, then did the retaliatory strikes with the aircraft carrier battle group … all to bring these perpetrators of this outrage to justice.

How can we even think about letting terrorists force us to abandon our principles? Keeping them in a black hole away from the rule of law? I defended this nation because I honestly believed it was not a rule of men, it was rule of law. …

What better way to show the resolve of this nation than to bring them to New York City to see how their effort to try to destroy something has risen again. And then to bring them into that court system, to show them the strength of America, that the rule of law will show them they were wrong and throw away the keys once they’ve been brought to justice, it’s the right way to do it. …

Well, as they well said today, those that will come before the military tribunals were ones that their acts were done overseas. Their acts were ones that were done on the battlefield over there.

He specifically has supported the idea of trying KSM in Pennsylvania — if it was logistically easier.

A large majority of Americans disagree, as polls have consistently shown. It is ironic that at a time when the Obama administration is reconsidering the civilian-trial option for KSM, Sestak remains committed to civilian trials for the jihadists. It’s not easy for a politician to get to the left of the president on anti-terror policies, but Sestak has done it. He may find it difficult if not impossible to get elected when you’re to the left of Obama on the war against Muslim extremists.