Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 13, 2009

KHALID SHAIKH MOHAMMED HEADED FOR TRIAL.... It's always reassuring when the Obama administration, knowing that intense far-right blowback is inevitable, does the right thing anyway.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and four other men accused in the plot will be prosecuted in federal court in New York City, a federal law enforcement official said early on Friday.

But the administration will prosecute Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri -- the detainee accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen -- and several other detainees before a military commission, the official said.

The decisions to give civilian prosecutors detainees accused of the 2001 terrorist attacks and keep the case of the Cole attack within the military system are expected to be announced at the Department of Justice later on Friday by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

We've been through all the arguments before, but I guarantee we're about to have the same tiresome debate all over again. We'll hear that a U.S. criminal court couldn't possibly be equipped to hear a case against a terrorist suspect -- except for all the U.S. criminal courts that have already proven that they're well equipped to hear cases against terrorist suspects. We'll hear that KSM, if convicted, will end up in an American supermax facility that's ill prepared to house terrorists -- except for all the terrorists that already safely locked away in American supermax facilities.

I've simply never understood the right's weak-kneed panic over the U.S. justice system. From what I gather, the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed should be pretty easy to make in court, and securing a conviction is likely to be pretty easy. By giving this suspected monster a fair trial, we can prove to the world the strength of American values and the integrity of the American system. Shouldn't Cheney, Giuliani, and the rest of the motley crew who'll spend the day whining on Fox News want a trial for KSM?

Steve Benen 8:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Sounds OK. The courts that will handle these folks will be those of their victims. The military can handle the Cole and New York the Trade Towers. Cant see anything wrong with that.

Posted by: Richard on November 13, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

It has nothing to do with being weak-kneed. It has to do with reflexively hating Obama and attacking everything he does. Well, almost everything -- if he were to launch a war, they'd praise him for that -- they love war more than they hate him.

Posted by: Obama Won on Change on November 13, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

From what I gather, the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed should be pretty easy to make in court,

Not so much. You have to wonder just what evidence can be introduced after we spent the last six years torturing him, denying him access to counsel, and tampering with both witnesses and physical evidence.

The case may have been open and shut at one time. But thanks to the epic ineptitude of Bush and Cheney, we may end up having to let Mohammed go.

Posted by: Donage on November 13, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

They get weak-kneed about it because the justice system has taken a few of them down as well. They don't trust the justice system because they fear it. Any system that catches the occasional Bob Ney or Duke Cunningham, in their minds, must not have its priorities right.

Posted by: John on November 13, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

If our Judicial system would only go after any American who has a case to be made against them, we'd really show the world our values.

The fact that there are cases to be made against former members of the Executive branch of government, for example, yet there are no plans to follow up on them (for inane reasons such as 'divisiveness' no less), spotlights the fallacy of our values--in that law is selectively applied.

Posted by: terraformer on November 13, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

It has nothing to do with being weak-kneed. It has to do with reflexively hating Obama and attacking everything he does. Well, almost everything -- if he were to launch a war, they'd praise him for that -- they love war more than they hate him.

You have apparently forgotten when Clinton went to Kosovo to stop a genocide. They couldn't have gone any farther in denouncing that war effort if Tom DeLay would have sat cross-legged on the floor of the house in full hippie garb with an acoustic guitar singin' Where Have All the Flowers Gone.

Posted by: Blue Girl on November 13, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Oh crap. I'm going to visit friends in NY next month and have to travel through NYC to Long Island. I'm askeared mommy.

Posted by: Dave on November 13, 2009 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

I'm inclined to agree with Glenn Greenwald on this one in saying Obama doesn't deserve much credit for this as these are basically show trials. Only the sure convictions will go to federal court with the less certain convictions going to a military commission where they will be convicted.

Posted by: Jeff on November 13, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

I've always thought KSM in that picture looks just like John Belushi in Animal House.

"College" = "Supermax"

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on November 13, 2009 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Agreed on Greenwald's point. Obama's system of justice is, disappointingly, just a more elaborate form of kangaroo court. And it is interesting to consider what will happen when Khalid's lawyers (appropriately) move to dismiss much of the evidence against him on the grounds it was obtained by illegal means.

Posted by: Dave on November 13, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Best news for the rule of law in this country in years.

Posted by: eadie on November 13, 2009 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

It may go to reflexively reinforcing their talking point that handling terrorism as a "law enforcement issue" is bad.

Posted by: g on November 13, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Since there is clearly no truth to the GOP arguments against trying terrorists in the US courts, isn't the real question "why does the GOP really oppose trials"?

I think reporters and bloggers could have a real impact and have some fun by pressing the GOP on that question.

Posted by: zak822 on November 13, 2009 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Well, if there is one place in America an accused terrorist can get a fair trial, it's New York City.

Posted by: doubtful on November 13, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Because most of the right-wingers are so certain that the attack on Ft. Hood was terrorism, shouldn't Nidal Hasan be immediately sent to Gitmo? I mean, what were they thinking sending him to a hospital - it can't possibly safely hold such a maniac. What are they thinking?? I can't believe that the U.S. Army is allowing a confirmed terrorist to live in the backyards of good Texas citizens! Where's the outrage?

Posted by: scott on November 13, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

I've always thought KSM in that picture looks just like John Belushi in Animal House.

More like Ron Jeremy. And not just because neocons like to look at him while beating off.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on November 13, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect that the torture that was repeatedly inflicted on this undoubtedly nasty guy during the Bush years will, however, result in a high likelihood that much of the evidence against him will be inadmissible in federal court.

Totally consistent with the Bush-Cheney philosphy: make government work poorly so people will hate the government; make the justice system work badly so people will hate the justice system; if you're in power, ignore the rule of law and do whatever you want to do.

Posted by: Tom on November 13, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK


i laughed out loud when some dumbass on msnbc declared...

that a trial in ny...

was a victory for terrorists...

notice conservatives always know what's best for evil..

Posted by: mr. irony on November 13, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I'm not so sure the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is going to be "pretty easy" to make in court, so securing a conviction may not be "pretty easy" either.

Remember, the government stated bin Laden absolutely was the mastermind. Yet there was so little evidence the FBI didn't even put him on the most wanted list. And after finding him guilty by proclamation rather than in court, the Bush admin decided capturing bin Laden wasn't that important after all.

The "terrorist" cases have been handled so badly from the start it's hard to believe there was any thought of bringing them to court. But now they are going to court.

Maybe Greenwald is right, maybe they will be show trials, but I don't think so. Even if they are, they stand to do much good, and may open many, many cans of worms the previous admin would rather not see opened.

Posted by: GoolyGee on November 13, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I've simply never understood the right's weak-kneed panic over the U.S. justice system.

Good point, Steve, and one wonders why, if the wingnuts think our justice system is so incompetent that it can't possibly handle one accused "terrorist," do they loudly sing its virtues when it's busy handing down 20 year sentences to poor black and Latino kids that get caught with a lousy dime bag of weed? Then, apparently, it's the "best justice system in the world."

Posted by: electrolite on November 13, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Steve: "I've simply never understood the right's weak-kneed panic over the U.S. justice system."

IMO it's more about ratcheting the fear level up a few notches.

Posted by: Me on November 13, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

How can they try or even allow testimony that is based on information from a man water boarded over 80 times in a single month. What can be believable?
What if he were to say there was inside help from the US. In other words they know exactly what will be said and how the trial will proceed.

This trial is well overdue to the point of being passed it. Chances are he will enter a guilty plea and be sentenced, keeping Americans from learning anything that could actually be verified.

The terrorist don't say look at what we did to America. They say look at what we got America to do to itself. In that respect 9/11 is mi-nute compared to the damage Bush caused.

Yet we still refuse to face our own hypocrisy otherwise the next trials would be for the Bush administration's key players...specifically Bush and Cheney for the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis plus many more crimes they committed.

Hell, Holder can't even undue the damage and illegality of the Don Siegleman case...who is innocent. But boy jumped right on the Stevens' case...who IS guilty. Where are the new USA's to replace the Bushies left in place? But OT...sorry

Is it come to this..."For Justice we must go to Don Correlione". The truth may set you free sometimes but it may get others put in prison.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 13, 2009 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

"...They couldn't have gone any farther in denouncing that war effort if Tom DeLay would have sat cross-legged on the floor of the house in full hippie garb with an acoustic guitar singin' Where Have All the Flowers Gone."
Posted by: Blue Girl on November 13, 2009 at 9:05 AM |

Hahahahahahahahahahaha...what an image...and so fitting. Points out they just reject everything dems do...everything. They are only in it for political gain and power to protect the wealthy and their trans national corps. enforced by an army of lobbyists holding the strings they dance to. Thanks Blue Girl...I'm still smiling over that image.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 13, 2009 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I can understand many of the comments relating to an intense dislike of the Bush administration. However, I do not understand treating this trial as politics, a political situation to be exploited. These people ARE responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent US citizens. They declared WAR on the United States of America.

The relatives and friends of those killed on 9/11 have had to endure so much since that day. Do they deserve to endure more? These men are military people who have planned and carried out one of the most horrid acts of terror against your country. Your response to this is to bash Bush and believe a political show to embarrass him is more important then carrying out a swift and appropriate response to their acts of terror. This is not a Democrats versus Republican issue.

Posted by: Rich on November 14, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Hello Kool Aide Drinkers -
What is the Government's case against KSM after his defense attys win their motion to prohibit all confessions and other information obtained by the Government from KSH and others using technigues that the current President of the U.S.A. has pronounced to be torture?

Special to Kool Aide Drinkers who are NYC taxpayers - Are you ready to sacrifice some 1st responder services as NY's Finest do overtime trying to protect the jury's and the judge's lives while this monster is on trial - or trying to protect the integrity of the trial - I guess the rest of us help by payig taxes for the additional Federal Marshals who are assigned to thetrial.

Posted by: Steve B on November 14, 2009 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

So if an ordinary crminal trial is OK for KSM, then why is it not OK for the other detainees--who will be tried in a miltary tribunal? Conversely, if military tribunals are necessary for some of the detainees, then why are they not necessary for KSM? THe WH is simply offering a sop to the left by trying the person most certain to be convicted in an ordinary criminal trail, while reserving military tribunals for the tougher cases. This is not a principled decision; its just playing politics--with justice and with the security of the country.

Posted by: glenn beaton on November 15, 2009 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Suspected monster?" Where did this guy attend idiot school?

Posted by: David Baker on November 16, 2009 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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