Putting Admitted Terrorists on Trial

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSH)

I must say that I am very confused about bringing an admitted terrorist into  our country and its court system, where everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, has an attorney assigned to them if they cannot afford one, and they enjoy the full rights and benefits of any other individual accused of a crime in the United States.

Evidence will be brought to bear on the case and, based on the preponderance of the evidence as presented skilfully by attorneys on both sides, and as adjudicated freely and with respect for the law, the judge and/or jury will find KSH innocent or guilty.

If, as Eric Holder, Obama’s choice for the U.S. Attorney General, has indicated ‘KSH’ should be found guilty of horrible crimes and should be brought to justice, I am wondering what is Holder’s real purpose of trying this mastermind here.  He must know that there is a chance that the well-meaning set of 12 honest, everyday jurors in this case, through legalese or side-deals or  bias,  might find to acquit.  Right? Then what?

Holder says he’s guilty, yet brings him here (while trying others in a military tribunal) to “try” him in a courtroom which Holder expects to find him guilty.  I see the twisted mess we are left with if this happens.  But where’s the upside?

Am I missing something?

By Sherry Jarrell

5 thoughts on “Putting Admitted Terrorists on Trial

  1. All suspected terrorists ought to be tried in normal courts. No reasonable argument exists for anything else.

    The only question is whether one should have special judges and procedures in cases of suspected terrorism, as is the case in Europe (different habeas corpus, say in Britain, or France, and France has four special anti-terrorist judges, who only do terrorism).

    KSM is wanted in France, for lethal terrorism, and would be tried there without any problem. They had worse cases tried there(some of whom died in jail of old age). That maybe why Holder wants to go normal on him, because it would look bad to try him in a special court just to be sent next to a normal court in France.

    There is no reason to use military courts. Military courts should be for the military.

    And, just as Sarkozy a little while ago, Holder ought to learn to use the word “suspect”. Weird, for trained lawyers…

    PA

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  2. Interesting approach in France. May work for you, but not here. We prefer to draw a clearer line between crime and war.

    Military courts are for war criminals. We are at war.

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  3. Sherry:
    War criminals have not been historically tried in special courts, although a few were.

    There is something called military law, it is enforced by military courts. For anybody else, the law applies, and it applies worldwide.

    I do not know if you realize this, but what you seem to be saying is that bin Laden is a professional soldier from a recognized state. So your approach is to endow Al Qaeda with the status of a state. A conclusion, then, of course is that the 9/11 plotters were military in combat, and thus not anymore criminal that the Allied airmen who dumped millions of tons of bombs on innocent civilians in WWII.

    In recent years the French military was in combat against more or less regular elements of enemy military (in Rwanda, Congo, Ivory Coast, Bosnia). Although French soldiers were killed in combat, the enemy was not viewed as criminal. The same combat against Muslim Fundamentalist terrorists resulted in them being treated as simple criminals. For example Somali pirates were grabbed by French forces on Somali ground, and hauled to France for trial. They now sit in French prison.

    The European approach is to treat Al Qaeda elements as plain and simple extremely dangerous criminals to which the law applies.

    I know that bin Laden was employed by Defense Secretary Gates and the CIA for decades so, maybe what you want to say is that he is truly part of the special forces of the USA, and thus military law of the USA ought to be applied to him. Quite a stretch. But then why don’t we try his ex-boss, Gates, too? I am not saying Gates is culprit of terrorism, just I suspect him of it…

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  4. I did not endow, even inadvertently, Al Qaeda with squat. Those are connections forged only in your mind!

    We are at war with terrorism and the terrorists who perpetuate it, and none of us has the time to parse words like bored philosophers or lawsuit-happy attorneys general.

    We need to acknowledge the current state of affairs that we actually face, and to deal with it head-on to prevent a very different kind of future.

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