Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Terrorist Trial in Criminal Court in New York

As you have no doubt heard the trial for one Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self confessed mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001 has been moved to a federal criminal court in New York City. The court house, in Foley Square, is just a short distance from Ground Zero. A sizable controversy has come up around this decision, and US AG Eric Holder spent several uncomfortable hours in the Senate this morning discussing it with the senators.

Here's a problem: They are being put on trial as if criminals for an act of war. To Mohammed and his cohorts, this was not just a bomb-and-arson. This was an act designed to cripple the United States with fear. It was a strike at financial, defense and (probably flight 93's destination) political centers. We are not involved in a police action with these Islamic extremist terrorists. We are involved in war. And that creates different parameters.

Here's another problem: This will be profoundly disruptive to the City of New York. Security will have to be ridiculously tight. It will cost money to guard these guys, and prevent attempts to kill them by both their colleagues and angry Americans. And for those directly affected by 9/11: I don't think having these guys around, and hearing all the details of the trial will exactly help everyone's psychological health.

A third problem: Appeals and technicalities. We all know about trials where the perp's guilt was obvious and proven, but the bad guy was released due to some "technicality" like a problem with evidence or interview. Did these guys get read their Miranda rights? No, I believe they were abused some, and their families threatened. Hmmm, that sounds like it could be a problem.

The current administration is so busy apologizing for America and trying to appear non-threatening to the world that we are endangering ourselves by underselling the determination of Islam extremists to wage war against us. This is war, not a police action. Thus, those who violate the rules of war should be tried in the military milieu, not civilian court. This is a bad idea.

1 comment:

Ann T. said...

Dear Observer,
Your post is the first sensible one I've found on this, so I'm glad Capt. Schmoe's site drew me to your site.

Let me say first that I agree with you. There are a couple of things to the other side. They will not change your opinion, I don't think, but they're worth mentioning.

1. There are some very good reasons to consider terrorism a crime instead of an act of war. That has to do with the fact that terrorism is not state-based but existing as part of a drug, weapon, money market out there, much like a Mafia.

2. In history, such people closest to this model were pirates. The law of the sea was that you hung them immediately, regardless of nationality or fealty. Mutineers and pirates were the same. Now we try mutineers. So this quick legal remedy is gone. We are more civilized.

3. Due to outrage world-wide about Abu Ghraib and the treatment of prisoners, I expect this is supposed to reassure the world community that we are doing things on an aboveboard level.

4. In which case, having the trial in Manhattan is supposed to give the sense of poetic justice, a symbol, which makes 2. seem less necessary and undercuts 3. So, a mistake.

If we were after the transparency, then this is a great thing. However, it's not effective the way it's worked out.

Wow, sorry for such a long response.
Ann T.