The argument over whether the panty bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, should have been interrogated and tried by a military tribunal, rather than in our Federal Justice System has completely ignored an important fact. Dearborn Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, is home to the largest Muslim Community in the United States. It is filled with young Muslim men, and women too, who are watching very closely how the US treats Abdulmutallab.
Imagine if the seriously burned Abdulmutallab had been dragged from his hospital bed to be disappeared and interrogated and tried down in Guantanamo in a closed military tribunal. How many young Muslim men, living right here in America, might that persuade toward jihad? But how many of these same young men will look at the openness of the legal proceedings, even go to the downtown Detroit courthouse and see for themselves that this Muslim offender faces the same justice as any blue eyed Christian defendant would, and become more trusting, and maybe even proud of the America they live in? Perhaps some day in the future one or two of them might even convey information to the authorities they would have kept to themselves, had America acted against it’s stated principal of equal justice.
Trying Abdulmutallab in our long established Federal Court System, is a statement to the world that we believe in it, and we practice what we preach. But it is also a message to the local Muslim Community that there is not one system of justice for Christians and another for Muslims. It is a gesture of respect to the Dearborn community. It is a statement to the world about who we are and what we believe. And it may just make us safer than all the water boarding in the world ever could.