ABA president: Justice system protections are a critical part of response to terrorist tragedy

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American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass/Len Irish.

ABA President Hilarie Bass is calling for adherence to the rule of law following the terrorist attack that killed eight people and wounded 12 on Tuesday in New York City.

In a statement issued Thursday, Bass says the ABA joins in mourning the victims of the attack in lower Manhattan. “No cowardly act of terrorism should divert our focus on maintaining and supporting the constitutional principles on which our justice system is based,” she says.

“Adherence to the rule of law and the protections of our system of justice are critical aspects of our response to such a tragedy,” Bass adds. “They are the foundation for the values we hold dear. Those values are undermined when anyone thoughtlessly disparages our constitutional structure and the hard-working people who diligently uphold our laws.”

Bass’ comments follow talk about sending suspect Sayfullo Saipov to Guantanamo for trial. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would consider the idea after Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona said Saipov should be sent to the U.S. naval base in Cuba. Both senators said there should be no need for Saipov to be read his Miranda rights.

But Trump indicated he was rejecting the idea in tweets on Thursday that read, “Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the federal system. … There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”

Trump also criticized the justice system in comments to reporters on Wednesday that were picked up by several news outlets, including CNBC. “We need quick justice and we need strong justice—much quicker and much stronger than we have right now —because what we have right now is a joke, and it’s a laughingstock,” he said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said Trump wasn’t disparaging the justice system. “He said that process has people calling us a joke and a laughingstock,” she said.

Federal prosecutors have charged Saipov, a 29-year-old native of Uzbekistan living in New Jersey, with one count of providing material support to terrorists and one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle causing death, the New York Times reports. The vehicle charge could bring the death penalty.

Saipov waived his Miranda rights when questioned at a Manhattan hospital where he was being treated after being shot by a police officer, according to the criminal complaint. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses read Saipov his rights at a Wednesday evening hearing and appointed a lawyer to represent him, according to the Times and Reuters.

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