Constitutional FAQ Answer #111
A. Your question is a the heart of many of the concerns of civil libertarians, who see the government's announced use of military tribunals hard to swallow, and frightening in their use. The biggest difference, though, between Louise Woodward and terrorists caught in Afghanistan is that the United States is saying that the latter are combatants in a war, whereas the former was a young woman charged with a criminal matter. Woodward was alleged to have committed the act in the United States, was arrested in the United States, and was, ultimately, tried in the United States. She was also acquitted (by the judge). The terrorists are being tracked down for crimes committed or just contemplated, to be done in the United States or elsewhere, and are being caught and detained outside the United States. Though there are similarities, the two classes of people (foreigners who commit crimes in the U.S. and terrorists engaged in planning or carrying out terrorist acts) are totally different.