Why is the Obama administration transferring Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who proudly proclaims himself the mastermind of the
Why transfer this all too well-known defendant and four of his closest associates from military to civilian jurisdiction? It has to be for some reason other than assuring swift and sure justice -- the kind that American military commissions have been providing since they were invented by
The transfer certainly is not motivated by security concerns. For this trial in a civilian court, like previous ones, will require extraordinary measures to protect the judges, prosecutors and witnesses.
Details about the sources and techniques of American intelligence, let alone those of our allies who cooperated in the capture of these much wanted men, will become fair game in open court.
Information that terrorists find useful can be revealed inadvertently during such a trial. For example, in the course of the trial of those who first bombed the
Once the terrorists get to trial, delays and extensions are sure to be sought -- even before the highly likely appeals. Complications unimagined are bound to arise. The legal games have only begun. By the time they end, after all the folderol of a show trial, justice may be reduced to an afterthought, if that.
Are we in for another judicial farce like the years-long spectacle starring
To quote Mr. Moussaoui's own, not entirely unjustified reaction on going off to do life without parole at a maximum-security prison in the Rockies: "America, you lost, I won!" At last report this convicted terrorist remains in good health, at least physically. And not much more deranged than anyone else whose life's ambition is mass murder.
Will KSM and his four fellow defendants be able to send much the same message ("America, you lost, we won!") at the conclusion of their trial? They can proclaim it at length, because this administration is about to provide them with a splendid platform for speechifying: a courtroom only a few blocks from the scene of the monstrous crime in lower
Are these prisoners being transferred to federal court only in order to carry out a campaign promise --
Is the aim then to delegitimize military justice in general? But that can't be -- the country's still new attorney general,
In those cases, is Gitmo just being moved ashore? To what end? Is the object to impress our enemies? Better to impress them with our determination to eliminate any threat they pose to our national security, if necessary by eliminating them.
When Khalid Sheik Mohammed was caught in
Yet the administration has forged ahead with its plan to give KSM and company an off-
Is it only the biggest fry who are to get civilian trials? Does rank have its privileges even among terrorists? Or will the civilian courts be reserved for those defendants whose guilt is so clear that the
The only clear conclusion to be drawn from the administration's inconsistent if not incoherent course is that, once again, justice will be delayed. And therefore denied.
There was a time when an American president could order up a military commission to try illegal combatants with dispatch, as
Six of the eight were executed within weeks; the two who had turned themselves in were imprisoned till after the war ended and then sent back to
- Terror Trials Are Our Defining Moment
- Trying Terrorists in U.S. is Dangerous
- Civilian Courts Fight Terrorists, Too
- It's No Way to Fight a War on Terror
- The Politics of Fort Hood
- Fort Hood: The Scapegoat Syndrome
- Isolated Incident at Fort Hood
- Same Old, Same Old at Fort Hood
- Tale of Two Journalists
- U.S. is Striking Back in the Global Cyberwar
- U.S. Civil Rights Commission Investigates College Admission Bias
- Public Transportation and Fast Commutes: Harder to Find Than You Might Think
- Cities for People Who Hate Driving and Long Commutes
- Moves to Seize Mosques Spark Outrage
- Supreme Court Weighs Juvenile Life Sentences
(C) 2009 Paul Greenberg