Today, a federal grand jury formally charged Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri — the only “enemy combatant” held inside the United States — “with two counts of providing material support to al Qaeda.” This afternoon, Fox News host Shepard Smith briefly veered off the Fox reservation and expressed outrage that al-Marri has been imprisoned for five years without any charges being filed against him:
SMITH: He has been held in a military prison for more than five years — not Chris Wallace — this next person. And he wasn’t ever charged. Think about that. I mean just think about it fundamentally. You are held for five years in prison, and you’re never charged! Oh well it was an al-Qaeda suspect, suspected al-Qaeda operative. Who cares who it is?! You don’t get to — this is America; you do not get to hold people for five years without — actually, you do. But he’s getting its day in court now.
Indeed, bringing charges against al-Marri in a civilian court represents “an abrupt change in policy from the Bush administration” which “had argued that he could be held indefinitely without being charged.” Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the indictment “shows our resolve to protect the American people and prosecute alleged terrorists to the full extent of the law” and that the Obama administration “will hold accountable anyone who attempts to do harm to Americans, and we will do so in a manner consistent with our values.”