I’m a bit conflicted about Eric Holder’s decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 defendants to New York City to stand trial for their parts in planning the attacks. Today, on Mid Stream Radio — 1 pm eastern, Noon central, 10 am left coast — we’ll have some special guests on to discuss this subject, if you’d care to stop by and contribute your thoughts, but I have a few thoughts to share here in advance.
I’ll confess that my initial reaction was one of relief and support of this idea, as risky as it might be. Though some of my regular readers will find it shocking, I actually found myself agreeing with certain portions of Glenn Greenwald’s column which partially supports the idea, while criticizing other aspects of it.
First, there are a number of issues surrounding this situation which come to us from the past and can no longer be changed, so they really don’t factor into a decision about this move. For example, I opposed the original establishment of the detention facility at Gitmo for this purpose. I fundamentally disagree with the idea of holding people indefinitely with no process in place to handle their situation. I also think that the term “enemy combatant” is something the Bush administration dreamed up and is fairly useless to us. These people are either criminals who are being held prisoner, or they are prisoners of war. We should have made a clear distinction on that from the beginning.
But as I said, that’s now all water under the bridge and we are stuck with the situation we have today. So what to do? I will confess that my personal desires color my decision making process here. Frankly, I think that if we’ve gotten all the useful information out of KSM that we can reasonably expect to get, I just want to get the guy in front of a firing squad and kill him. And if that requires a “show trial” which is actually “unfair” to him, then a big part of me is willing to swallow my moral hesitancy, paint the patina of justice on this and get it over with.
But what’s the best way to proceed? Greenwald complains about that fact that some other prisoners will be getting military tribunals, apparently fearing that they won’t get their full measure of “justice” in such a venue as they might in a civilian trial in New York. But the tribunals do address other valid concerns brought up by Ed Morrissey, which I share. There may be questions of evidence chain handling, how the information was obtained, (torture?) and due process which could make a civilian trial nearly impossible even KSM is being defended by a first year public defender who barely passed the bar. And will information critical to a conviction be suppressed because it’s classified? Would that result in a not guilty verdict? And if so, what do we do then… let the guy go? And if we don’t, then the entire process is exposed as a sham.
In a way, a mean spirited little part of me just wishes we could ship KSM back to whatever location we picked him up at and shoot him and bury him there. But that really doesn’t solve anything either I suppose. Either way, we’ll have a few folks on our show today to try to hash it all out and you’re invited to come along for the ride and add your own perspective. Follow the link up top to join in the chat during the show or call in at (646) 595-3963 with your own comments. See you on the radio.