Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed would stand trial in New York City along with four other terrorists for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans on that bloody day eight years ago. Holder has said he would seek the death penalty for the terrorists and expressed confidence that the prosecution would get convictions.
One immediately thinks of the evidence that may be thrown out due to the waterboarding that was done to KSM. In a civilian court, the accused has the benefit of the doubt, which gives the terrorists a much stronger legal position and is a big reason moving the trials to the civilian legal system is a dicey proposition.
The trials will likely be a media circus on the order of OJ, which may provide a target for other terrorists to hone in on. But NYC and federal officials will probably have a pretty good handle on security (you would hope anyway). Still, there’s a valid argument that KSM should have remained under military tribunal jurisdiction instead of a civilian court where reasonable doubt and evidence disqualification may be big stumbling blocks.
Even with all that, you would think that a conviction would be almost guaranteed. And even if by some bizarre turn of events KSM or his cronies is acquitted, there’s no way Obama would release them. To do so would be committing political suicide as well as inviting a fresh wave of terror attacks by terrorists who will have been shown they have little to fear from American justice. So if the Obama administration doesn’t plan on letting them go anyway, then isn’t this all a big charade?
It’s interesting to note that Rudy Giuliani, former AG Michael Mukasey, and Democratic Sen. James Webb have all expressed grave concern over this move. They’re by far not the only ones – even New Yorkers are split about whether this is such a good idea. While it’s laudable that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his cronies will be facing justice, the American civil justice system isn’t the place for a foreign national plotting acts of war against the United States.
I’ll be interested to see how aggressive the defense teams plan to be. If they offer up a weak token effort, all’s well that ends well, I suppose. But if they go hard after evidence collected by intelligence officers and military officials who never dreamed they’d have to stand up to the exacting standards of proof of the American justice system, things may go south in a hurry. We shall see.