Monday, April 14, 2008

Which Country's Approach Towards Terrorists Is More Productive, the US or UK

The US and UK have seperate approaches towards prosecution of terrorists. In the U.S., we allow for prosecutors to plea bargain, allowing lighter sentences in return for intelligence and testimony. In the UK, there is no such a flexibility, and a terrorist charged with a crime that carries a lifetime prison sentence must be prosecuted towards that sentence. The UK approach is more principled, but its lack of flexibility is problematic.


This from the Daily Mail:

The war on terror is being hindered by restrictive British law which has created a "dark hole of intelligence", the director of the FBI has claimed.

Robert Mueller, America's top counter-terrorist official, said in an exclusive interview that he sometimes felt "frustration" at MI5 and Scotland Yard's inability to obtain critical information from suspects.

He blamed Britain's banning of plea-bargaining – which, in America, means suspects can receive much lighter sentences in return for revealing everything they know about other members of their cell and their international links.

"If you talk to our British counterparts, it's clear that people questioned about the training camps and the individuals who run the training camps have not been co-operating," said Mr Mueller, 63.

"The information they must have would bear directly on the threat situation in the UK and the situation in Pakistan, which right now is the key to thwarting successful attacks.

"All of us would like a clearer view of what's happening in Pakistan and so that's a frustration."

Mr Mueller, made FBI chief a week before the 9/11 attacks, spoke after talking about counter-terrorism in London last week to an audience including MI5 chief Jonathan Evans and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.

His comments are a clear attempt to influence debate in Britain, where the Government is trying to extend the period that terrorist suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 42 days.

But plea-bargaining would mean that would be unnecessary, said Mr Mueller, adding that he had "no problem" with the US limit of two days before a terror suspect had to be charged.

Under the American plea-bargaining system, suspects are bound by a rigid contract, so that if it later emerges that they have not given up all their relevant knowledge, their deal is void.

Mr Mueller said that although leads opened up by plea-bargains in America had proven vital in preventing attacks and obtaining convictions in Britain, terrorists arrested and convicted in the UK were keeping invaluable secrets to themselves in their prison cells. . . .

Mr Mueller said he expected "a majority" of terrorist suspects in America to co-operate, making plea-bargaining one of his most useful weapons.

He added that the mere knowledge that such deals could be done tended to disrupt cells' ability to function because members were more reluctant to trust each other.

Read the entire article.

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