There has been a lot of angst, criticism and just plain political hysteria surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind, and other terrorists, in a federal civilian court, just blocks from Ground Zero.
I will be the last one to pass judgment on the emotions and feelings—pro or con this decision—of relatives and friends of New York’s 9/11 victims and of New Yorkers. Nor will I pass judgment at this time on the administration’s decision to move some of the terrorists’ trials out of military courts to federal civilian courts on the U.S. mainland.
Assuming the administration’s decision to try these terrorists in federal civilian courts stands, I respectfully suggest a change of venue.
Perhaps we should consider moving the trial(s) to our nation’s capital, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Such a change of venue would recognize that it was not only New York that was attacked on 9/11, but our entire nation—all Americans.
It could also allay some—not all—concerns and criticisms.
The 9/11 terrorists also attacked the very symbol of our military power: the Pentagon. I know that many of the military who saw so many of their buddies injured and 55 of them killed, would welcome seeing the perpetrators face justice just across the Potomac from the place that was attacked and where their buddies died.
For those who worry about reprisals and security, these same military, along with reinforcements (there are numerous military installations in the Washington D.C. area), would be more than happy and capable to provide the necessary protection and deal with those who would dare to “interfere.”
The President and the Attorney General who proposed the civilian court trials are here also. And so is Congress. They would all be equally exposed to any potential danger, from which they should not shrink, and which should promote even greater security and protection.
As in New York, federal rules will allow prosecutors in Washington D.C. to seek the death penalty for these terrorists.
Finally, with our Supreme Court here, a symbol of American commitment to justice for the world to see, what an opportunity to quickly and decisively consider and once-and-for-all settle any appeals that may arise and to have justice served—swiftly and to the fullest extent.
Just a thought…
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.