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11/14/2009
SOME SHORT NOTES ON KSM AND AMERICAN JUSTICE

The news that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried in New York City kind of shocked me yesterday. It has cheered some, worried others, and made some on the right white hot with anger.

Those who see this as a “triumph of the American Justice system” are blowing smoke out of their ass - including Obama. Let’s face it - he is gambling with the lives of God knows how many New Yorkers that we can stop any terrorist attacks occurring during the trial. Some on the right are accusing Obama of not thinking about this possibility, but that is certainly not true. The government is going in to this situation with their eyes wide open and the fact that we are bringing KSM to New York when he easily could have been tried in exactly the same manner at Guantanamo (or out in the middle of the Mojave desert for that matter) shows us that they wish to make some kind of grandiose statement about American justice.

This then is the calculated risk being taken by the president; that it is worth the threat to innocent Americans to prove our justice system is capable of handling even the most dedicated and evil enemy combatant. I don’t deny that this is a worthy goal. But weighed in the balance against what it might cost us, I believe, quite simply, it is a monumental mistake.

Not only are innocents at risk, but how sure is the administration that this trial won’t degenerate into the kind of idiocy we witnessed during the Simpson trial? Would that prove the efficacy of our justice system? Or would it be remembered as a shameful moment in the history of American jurisprudence?

Can any judge anywhere prevent this trial from becoming a media circus? Not unless they want to lock up half the journalists in America or censor their work. Is it even remotely possible that this trial will not be televised? Fat chance. Can both the defense attorneys and prosecutors resist the temptation to grandstand, to play to the TV audience rather than the jury? How about the judge?

The belief that this trial will show-off the “American justice system” in all its solemnity and seriousness is a laugher. And again, the government is not stupid. They know this will happen. This will be the OJ trial on steroids - the highest rated legal series on TV since Law and Order was in its heyday. And yet, despite the real possibility that terrorists - even the lone wolf Nidal Hasan variety - will try and grab the limelight by slaughtering a bunch of innocent New Yorkers, the government is insisting on idiotic posturing rather than protecting the people.

At bottom, this is a political decision, not a legal one. The Wall Street Journal:

Please spare us talk of the “rule of law.” If that was the primary consideration, the U.S. already has a judicial process in place. The current special military tribunals were created by the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which was adopted with bipartisan Congressional support after the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision obliged the executive and legislative branches to approve a detailed plan to prosecute the illegal “enemy combatants” captured since 9/11.

Contrary to liberal myth, military tribunals aren’t a break with 200-plus years of American jurisprudence. Eight Nazis who snuck into the U.S. in June 1942 were tried by a similar court and most were hanged within two months. Before the Obama Administration stopped all proceedings earlier this year pending yesterday’s decision, the tribunals at Gitmo had earned a reputation for fairness and independence.

As it happens, Mr. Holder acknowledged their worth himself by announcing that the Guantanamo detainee who allegedly planned the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole off Yemen and four others would face military commission trials. (The Pentagon must now find a locale other than the multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art facility at Gitmo for its tribunal.)

Taking the side of the administration, the New York Times praises this “return” to the rule of law (the military courts, as the WSJ notes, were operating under rules passed by a bi-partisan Congress which means that the Times agrees with the tea partyers that Congress can act unlawfully.)

Putting the five defendants on public trial a few blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center is entirely fitting. Experience shows that federal courts are capable of handling high-profile terrorism trials without comprising legitimate secrets, national security or the rule of law. Mr. Bush’s tribunals failed to hold a single trial.

The fact that defense lawyers are likely to press to have evidence of abuse aired in court — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was tortured by waterboarding 183 times — is unlikely to derail the prosecutions, especially given Mr. Holder’s claim to have evidence that has not been released yet.

I don’t think there is a debate that our courts are completely unable to handle terrorist cases, or other sensitive trials where national security is a concern. I would note that the Times, while taking John Cornyn to task for the senator’s characterization of the government’s action of trying KSM and his friends as “common criminals,” makes the same mistake with KSM; they assume he is a “common terrorist” and that previous court cases prove that justice can be served.

KSM is a “common” nothing and the Times is being disingenuous throughout that entire editorial. If ever there was a special case where exceptions to the rule are in order, it is this one.

I am not concerned that KSM may be acquitted. I’m sure the charges will be sufficiently broad to allow him to be convicted of something. I am also sure that he will never see the outside of a cell in his lifetime.

The question is one of intelligently balancing the need for security and the need for justice - something that the left accused Bush of failing to do by pointing out that he bent over backward toward the goal of security while justice suffered.

Isn’t President Obama doing exactly the same thing? Aren’t we now putting the concept of justice far ahead of security? If justice was the goal, a New York venue for the trial would not have been necessary. There is no rational argument that makes it so without also making the point that security should be a secondary consideration.

This is what the administration has done.They have consciously made a choice to put the lives of American citizens at risk for what is, in effect, propaganda - to show the world (and satisfy his domestic liberal base) that American justice is a superior system, or, in the words of the Times, KSM will be “…tried in a fashion that will not further erode American justice or shame Americans.”

I’ll believe that when I see it. This trial has all the potential to “further erode American justice and shame Americans.” Legal circuses usually have that effect.

By: Rick Moran at 12:43 pm
45 Responses to “SOME SHORT NOTES ON KSM AND AMERICAN JUSTICE”
  1. 1
    JerryS Said:
    1:14 pm 

    Rick -

    Why are so many on the right afraid of the US putting terrorists on trial in a US city? Governments all over the world have put terrorists on trial in their own cities:

    The British put the Subway bombers on trial right in London.
    The Spanish put the Subway Train bombers on trial in an open court in Madrid.
    Indonesia put terrorists on trial for the Bali bombing in an open courtroom.
    Even India put terrorists on trial in an open courtroom in Mumbai.

    So why are we afraid to do what those “soft Europeans” do regularly?

    Right. KSM is just another terrorist.

    Thank you for clarifying that.

    ed.

  2. 2
    Eric Stevens Said:
    1:39 pm 

    Question: You say “I don’t think there is a debate that our courts are completely unable to handle terrorist cases, or other sensitive trials where national security is a concern.”
    What about Richard Reed and Zacarias Moussaoui or the World Trade Center Bombers of 1993? These trials were all carried out without a serious security problem. The venue was chosen specifically for its security with a secure Metropolitan Correctional Center and underground tunnels for transport. I pray that I am right, but I think your security concerns are overblown.
    As far as legal circuses are concerned KSM is not O.J. Simpson, and the Justice Department is certainly not the L.A. District Attorney. Sure there will be a great deal of public interest, but the two trials don’t seem equivalent.

    Bad writing. I meant that there is no debate they can do it.

    ed.

  3. 3
    still liberal Said:
    1:59 pm 

    I thought cameras were not allowed in federal courts for criminal trials. Has this changed?

  4. 4
    Modulo Myself Said:
    2:04 pm 

    It’s pretty telling that you go on and on about Americans and their love for freedom when it concerns the tyranny of health care; and at the same time, then go on and on about how our legal system and rule of law is inferior to show trials and extra-legal black holes.

    40,000 plus Americans die each year due to a lack of health care. Your principles say that’s a price we pay for freedom. But a possible attack at KSM’s trial is enough to give up the rule of law.

    And as someone who lives in NYC and works in lower Manhattan, blocks from the courthouse, there’s zero concern about safety coming from these quarters. In fact, if it hadn’t been for reading all of the wingnut rubes, it probably wouldn’t have even occurred to me.

    Anyone who would equate these two issues is a moron.

    ed.

  5. 5
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:09 pm 

    The Right has begun wetting their pants at the thought of America being strong enough o try the monsters of the world right where they committed their heinous acts instead of on a remote island in the middle of the ocean.

    KSM isn’t frakking Bloefeld or Magneto for crissakes. And just when did the idea that the radical Muslims hate us and attack us no matter what we do go away?

    In the Battlestar Galactica episode “Hand of God” Adama says that eventually you have to stop running and punch the neighborhood bully right in the nose.

    F*** Osama.

  6. 6
    michael reynolds Said:
    2:21 pm 

    We tried the Lincoln conspirators in Washington — a city that had been very close to being lost to CSA forces on several occasions — despite the fact that armed bands of Confederate sympathizers were still around. And despite the fact that Washington itself had a population that was in large part pro-Confederate. (And don’t tell me the Confederacy didn’t do terrorism.)

    And then there was:

    Later Sacco and Vanzetti both stood trial for murder in Dedham, Massachusetts for the South Braintree killings, with Webster Thayer again presiding. (Thayer had asked to be assigned the trial.) Well aware of the Galleanists’ reputation for constructing dynamite bombs of extraordinary power, Massachusetts authorities took great pains to defend against a possible bombing attack. Workers outfitted the Dedham courtroom where the trial was to be held with cast-iron bomb shutters (painted to match the wooden ones fitted elsewhere in the building) and heavy, sliding steel doors that could protect that section of the courthouse from blast effect in the event of a bomb attack. Each day during the trial, Sacco and Vanzetti were escorted in and out of the courtroom under a heavy armed guard.

    Still and all, we didn’t try them in Cuba. Huh. I guess we weren’t huge pussies in those days.

  7. 7
    Terrible Terry Said:
    2:24 pm 

    If we have a legal system that is set up by our Constitution and that we believe in, why on earth would we not use it? Why should we cower in fear of some possible attack and hide behind the military and the fences of Guantanamo? If we’re too afraid to act normally now, when will that ever change? If we continue with this fear, aren’t we admitting that the terrorists have actually won?

    As another commenter (JerryS) put it, “..why are we afraid to do what those ’soft Europeans’ do regularly?”

    It’s odd to see you agreeing with the current Obama Administration, which is currently arguing for state secrets exemption, is arguing - in effect - that our courts are incapable of handling national security matters. Again, this seems to be a fearful reaction that once again turns to the (Executive branch of) government for protection. I challenge you (and your Obama amigos) to prove that - but I won’t have to hold my breath because it simply isn’t true.

    (Believe it or not, this is one post in which another commenter, Richard bottoms, with whom I have many disagreements, is absolutely right on target. Keep up the good work, Richard.)

  8. 8
    Modulo Myself Said:
    2:29 pm 

    Right, Rick, I’m a moron for reading your blog posts on how deep and destructive to our freedom health care will be, and then reading how it’s a tragic mistake to adhere to these freedoms in the case of a terrorist.

    You’re a good guy, and you’re definitely not arguing in bad faith, but you seem tremendously blind to what motivates you to have these positions.

    False equivalency on steroids.

    ed.

  9. 9
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:30 pm 

    Still and all, we didn’t try them in Cuba. Huh. I guess we weren’t huge pussies in those days.

    Got that right.

    My comments come from someone willing to raise his hand and wear the uniform, not from Chickenhawk tough guys like Hannity who have all the guts in the world when it’s someone else’s kid on the firing line.

    The Republicans have been pushing the idea that we are in the fight of our lives, a war to put all other wars to shame and now that our president has said, yeah you’re right it’s time to bring in the fainting couches.

    Rick, being a vet isn’t in that category so I am surprised that he finds Obama’s display of fortitude to be troubling.

    We can’t run from these guys. And, we aren’t so afraid of them that we must abandon our morals to torture and suspension of the rule of law to beat them.

    What we are is the United States of America dammit, and we will pursue justice and freedom in the face of evil.

  10. 10
    Modulo Myself Said:
    2:33 pm 

    Just to make my position clear, KSM is not special, he’s just a damn human. He should be tried either in our courts as a criminal, or be treated as a POW, like any other captured soldier. The right’s extra-legal BS has been appalling since day one. It’s only real use has been for domestic consumption, so to allow the usual pathetic cases the illusion that hate and cruelty equals toughness.

  11. 11
    JerryS Said:
    3:02 pm 

    Yes. KSM is just another terrorist.

  12. 12
    Richard bottoms Said:
    3:12 pm 

    Yes. KSM is just another terrorist.

    Did he build a laser satellite out of diamonds and fry Idaho?

    Maybe he captured the Space Shuttle and hid it in a secret base in a volcano?

    Pushed the Moon out of orbit? Stopped time?

    No, he took an idea from a Tom Clancy book (or the first episode of “The Lone Gunmen”) and pulled it off.

    He had four planes hijacked and successfully flew three of them into some buildings. Evil yes, but hardly on par with Spectre.

    It was our failure of imagination that allowed it to happen, but it was hardly a crime that only the evillest man in all of history could have pulled off.

    Put him on trial, use the non-torture produced evidence to convict him and then take a needle to the bastard.

    I used to think conservatives were tough.

  13. 13
    michael reynolds Said:
    4:00 pm 

    The blind sheikh, Abdel-Rahman, one of the planners of the 1993 WTC bombing has been in prison in Butner, North Carolina for 13 years.

    I’m unable to find any references to terrorist attacks on Butner.

    As pointed out above, the Europeans have tried, convicted and incarcerated Al Qaeda terrorists. The UK held IRA terrorists, the Spaniards held Basque terrorists.

    Why can’t we try and then imprison or execute KSM? Obviously we can.

    So now, why are conservatives — who are usually at such pains to convince us of their manly manlitude — suddenly weeping with fear and advising us all to cower?

    It’s almost as if they were positioning themselves to profit politically from any future terrorist attack.

  14. 14
    Richard bottoms Said:
    4:04 pm 

    It’s almost as if they were positioning themselves to profit politically from any future terrorist attack.

    No way.

    That would be low down slimy getter politics.

    Oh wait, you’re talking about the GOP.

    Never mind.

  15. 15
    Tim Said:
    4:18 pm 

    Wow. The reaction to this post warms my heart. The hackery that Rick uses to fit the pre-conceived republican meme is so blatant, the only thing you can say is Rick does it a little better than most. Absolute dishonesty with reasoning tailored and crafted to fit the same opinion being belched up by every other right-wing hack with a blog or a microphone. No concern how damaging it is to our security to have KBT contractors picking off civilians, no concern for the security of millions of uninsured Americans right here at home. No concern whatsoever for women who raped while trying to do their jobs in Iraq.

    Just a laser-focused hatred for our president and an unending arsenal of false outrage always at the ready to fire off when the so-called opportunity presents itself…

    Yeah sure, Rick. Let’s allow the fear of terrorists to dictate how we administer justice in America….Sure.

    Glad you’re not in charge.

    1. I do not hate the president. I challenge you to prove that. Since you’ve questioned my integrity, I demand that you prove it.

    2. There is no “false outrage” in this post. There is reasoned opposition. Since you question my integrity, I demand that you point out where there is “false outrage.”

    3. No concern how damaging it is to our security to have KBT contractors picking off civilians, no concern for the security of millions of uninsured Americans right here at home. No concern whatsoever for women who raped while trying to do their jobs in Iraq.

    Where the fuck did that come from? What does that have to do with where to try KSM? If you want to question my integrity, you are going to have to prove that I don’t support insuring the uninsured (I do, as anyone who has read any of my health care posts can tell you), that I didn’t criticize KBT, or that I have “no concern whatever” that women were raped in Iraq. Strawman arguments all because that’s all you’ve got. You have questioned my integrity. I demand that you prove it.

    All you can do is spout talking points and question my integrity. No proof. Not even willing to quote anything from this post to prove your points because you can’t - there’s nothing there.

    I don’t have to question your integrity. It is painfully obvious from your comment that you have none - all you have is hatred for the opposition.

    You sir, are a liar. No other word for it.

    ed,

  16. 16
    Terrible Terry Said:
    4:34 pm 

    Shoutout to all (and completely off-topic)

    Can anyone point me to info on just what syntax is available in this blog’s comment section (to do things like links, highlighting, bordering, etc.)?

    TIA

  17. 17
    Quiddity Said:
    4:50 pm 

    I have no problem with a trial in the United States, but don’t think New York was a good idea.

  18. 18
    obamathered Said:
    5:13 pm 

    New Yorkers lined up in droves to vote for this unqualifed, incompetent F@@@. Sometimes you get what you want.

  19. 19
    Richard bottoms Said:
    5:21 pm 

    New Yorkers lined up in droves to vote for this unqualifed, incompetent F@@@. Sometimes you get what you want.

    A president who can string a sentence together with something greater than grade school competency, and the guts to tell the terrorists we decide how we run our country.

    It’s about time we sent a gigantic FU to Bin Laden. They’re coming for us no matter what we do, or what bed Republicans care to hide under.

    Justice will be dealt, and it’s Osama who just got served.

  20. 20
    michael reynolds Said:
    5:23 pm 

    New Yorkers were the direct victims of 911, not red-staters.

    They behaved magnificently. They did not run and hide. The city did not empty out. Yes, they voted for Obama and my guess is if asked they’ll say they have the stomach to try KSM right there in the Big Apple.

    Osama bin Laden doesn’t even know how to find red state America. And yet it’s red-state America that seems to be delirious with fear.

  21. 21
    obamathered Said:
    5:35 pm 

    No doubt, Michael. Osama probably has died of old age while he has awaited Obama’s decision. Dead folks have hard times with maps.

    “Dithering?” Hell no. It is “polling.” We all await your excuse.

  22. 22
    busboy33 Said:
    5:43 pm 

    Rick:

    Perhaps fear of attack is justified (I don’t buy it, but its plausable), but your solution (try KSM in the desert, in Gitmo, or somewhere remote) completely missed the danger allegedly posed.

    WHY would terrorists mount an attack? To bust KSM out? If that’s the plan . . . fat chance. You ever seen a high-security federal trial? Even if hypothetically several hundred heavily armed and armored soldiers managed to mount a co-ordinated attack (it would take at least that to get into the courtroom — no joke — that place will be almost impregnible), they can always remove KSM through multiple underground (secured) tunnels and/or back channels. The possibility of “springing” him from custody is pretty much zero.

    And why bother busting him out? Is he the only “mastermind” they have that can plan attacks? Is he that valuble to AlQ?

    Now, I’ll buy they might be motivatred mount a mass casulity attack just to make a statement — but if they were going to do that, then they could mount the attack regardless of where KSM is tried. If the point of such an attack is to just massacre civilians, they’d do it in a heavy pop area regardless of the trial location, so they might well attack NYC even if the trial is held in Gitmo, or on the moon. NOT trying him in NYC does absolutely nothing to reduce the danger. Trying him in NYC does send a statement (we’re in charge, not the terrorists).

    We managed to try the blind shiek just fine. We manage to try Mafia kingpins (who have far more armed soldiers in country) just fine. We’ll try KSM just fine. Trust your legal system a little bit. It’s worked for centuries.

    Sure the military commisions were passed bi-partisan. Given that the choice was pass it or be labeled a supporter of terrorists by the administration, I’m not too suprised. No, you’re right — it must have had the backing of the Dems. After all, look at all the debate and negotiation that went into it (far more than health care reform, right?).

    But then . . .you know all this, don’t you? So this crap about “bi-partisan” adds up to little more than partisan FUD.

  23. 23
    Juan Paxety Said:
    5:44 pm 

    There’s a 100% chance it will not be televised. Federal court proceedings do not allow cameras.

  24. 24
    Richard bottoms Said:
    6:42 pm 

    And why bother busting him out? Is he the only “mastermind” they have that can plan attacks? Is he that valuble to AlQ?

    They’ll hire Magneto and he’ll fly in all cool and junk after ripping the roof off of the courthouse and then Cyclops will like totally blow him out of the window, but Magneto was really just making a distraction so Mystique who was disguised as Eric Holder all along could use Jean Grey’s powers to try to fly them both out of there but Wolverine is going to slice off her head and say “Got you now Bub” right before he shoves his claws through KSM’s chest.

    Or not.

  25. 25
    John Burke Said:
    7:18 pm 

    Michael Reynolds appears to be rummaging about in his history books looking for examples of other nation’s presumably more courageous and admirabel — such as “The UK held IRA terrorists.”

    Uh, yeah, they sure did. First, the Brits interned without trial thousands of suspected Irish nationalists in Ulster. Then, under the do-called Special Powers Act of 1973, it organized new star chamber procedings known as Diplock Courts where thousands more were accused of terrorist crimes and many tried before a single all-powerful judge and no jury. Not surprisingly, many were convicted, often based solely on confessions beaten iout of them by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. For many more years, the Brits relied on the supposedly temporary Prevention of Terrorism Act which basically suspended due process rights and allowed authorities to detain anyone. More than 5,000 people were so detained, only a tiny proportion of whom were ever charged with any crime.

    Nothing — repeat, nothing — that we have done in response to the 9/11 attacks, which in an instant dwarfed all the casualties caused by IRA violence over decades, compares to these draconian measures imposed on ITS OWN CITIZENS (!) by the UK — not the Patriot Act, not Guantanamo, nothing.

    One more thing for Reynolds: it’s pathetic to keep trying to characterize people — and they are by no means all conservatives — who want to act aggressively, yet prudently to prevent future terrorist attacks on US soil as nervous nellies and cowards. It is not a badge of courage to fail to do what is necessary to protect your country, home and family; it’s a badge of dishoner and shame. I live in New York and I know not a single person who is pleased with this decision except Jerry Nadler and other politicians (and most of teh people I know are Democrats; that includes me).

  26. 26
    John Burke Said:
    7:20 pm 

    I apologize for the typos in the above comment, particularly in the firsts sentence, which should have read:

    Michael Reynolds appears to be rummaging about in his history books looking for examples of other nation’s presumably more courageous and admirable treatment of terrorists — such as “The UK held IRA terrorists.”

  27. 27
    Richard bottoms Said:
    7:27 pm 

    One more thing for Reynolds: it’s pathetic to keep trying to characterize people — and they are by no means all conservatives — who want to act aggressively, yet prudently to prevent future terrorist attacks on US soil as nervous nellies and cowards.

    You mean the ones who are all for holding anyone the president decides is a terrorist indefinitely without regard for rule of law or the Geneva convention, torture them if we like, beating and freezing some of them to death (Dilawar), send innocent men to be brutalized via rendition (Maher Arar) and then have a gigantic fainting spell when it comes time to bring some of them to trail in the city they attacked.

    You mean that reaction?

  28. 28
    Liberty60 Said:
    8:28 pm 

    “Not surprisingly, many were convicted, often based solely on confessions beaten out of them by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. For many more years, the Brits relied on the supposedly temporary Prevention of Terrorism Act which basically suspended due process rights and allowed authorities to detain anyone. More than 5,000 people were so detained, only a tiny proportion of whom were ever charged with any crime.”

    Seriously, without a trace of snark- given the context of the post and comments, I can’t tell in your writing if you are admiring or condemning this.

    Which is kinda the point here; for a political movement that throws around the words freedom and liberty like Halloween candy, there seems to be a lot of resistance to actually practicing said freedoms.

  29. 29
    obamathered Said:
    8:30 pm 

    Reynolds’ grand re-appearnce will be when Obama announces 23,618 (or whatever) additional troops will be deployed to Afghanistan. It will be an “I told you so”-type partisan hack cocksucker reply. Moran probably will post how historic it all is despite the math. Meanwhile, soldiers will die needlessly as The Keystone Cops of National Security-USA Gallup dither under a guise of national security that is public polling.

  30. 30
    michael reynolds Said:
    8:33 pm 

    Burke:

    None of your remarks even is relevant to me.

    The topic was whether we could try and imprison and execute KSM in the US. It has nothing to do with whether the UK was justified in its dealings with the IRA.

    Nor am I characterizing people for how they aggressively attack terrorists.

    Read Rick’s piece and then read the comment thread before you decide I’ve done or said something I didn’t do or say.

  31. 31
    John Burke Said:
    8:39 pm 

    “You mean the ones who are all for holding anyone the president decides is a terrorist indefinitely without regard for rule of law or the Geneva convention, torture them if we like, beating and freezing some of them to death (Dilawar), send innocent men to be brutalized via rendition (Maher Arar) and then have a gigantic fainting spell when it comes time to bring some of them to trail in the city they attacked.”

    The Military Commissions were created by Congress to meet the requirements set out by the courts and the Geneva Concventions. They are entirely consistent with the rule of law. Obama and Holder have embraced them and intend to try other detaineees before them. Thus, there is no reason whatsoever to try KSM and four others in federal courts in New York or anywhere else.

    As for a “gigantic fainting spell,” I’ve addressed that spurious isue so go sit on a tack.

  32. 32
    John Burke Said:
    8:49 pm 

    Michael Reynolds: “None of your remarks even is relevant to me.”

    Sure they are. You brought this up above to make a point:

    “As pointed out above, the Europeans have tried, convicted and incarcerated Al Qaeda terrorists. The UK held IRA terrorists, the Spaniards held Basque terrorists.”

    The point you made was, they can do it, so can we.

    OK, but at least in the case of the UK, it would be wrong to think they just sent the cops out, gathered evidence, read the IRA suspects their rights, and hailed them before some fine British court. Faced with a number of terrorist casualties that was minimal, compared to 9/11, they launched what people might call an extra-legal crackdown, rounding up anyone remotely connected to Irish nationalism in Ulster, trying them in star chambers, holding them indefinitely without trial, and not incidentally, subjected many of the to beatings and inhumane treatment. AND THESE WERE THEIR OWN CITTIZENS.

    So maybe, at least, you’ll stop going round saying, well, if they can do it, so can we. What some of us propose — trying them before the Military Commissions created by Congress for that purpose and embraced by Obama and Holder — hardly comes close to what the Brits were prepared to do — and did.

    It’s very relevant.

  33. 33
    jpe Said:
    9:05 pm 

    NY’er here. I just don’t see the risk. Sure al-Qaeda could use this as an opportunity to try to attack, but do they really need an occasion?

  34. 34
    obamathered Said:
    9:52 pm 

    Reynolds: Tick, tock…
    We all await… the hee haw.

  35. 35
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:31 pm 

    Sure they are. You brought this up above to make a point:

    “As pointed out above, the Europeans have tried, convicted and incarcerated Al Qaeda terrorists. The UK held IRA terrorists, the Spaniards held Basque terrorists.”

    The point you made was, they can do it, so can we.

    OK, but at least in the case of the UK, it would be wrong to think they just sent the cops out, gathered evidence, read the IRA suspects their rights, and hailed them before some fine British court. Faced with a number of terrorist casualties that was minimal, compared to 9/11, they launched what people might call an extra-legal crackdown, rounding up anyone remotely connected to Irish nationalism in Ulster, trying them in star chambers, holding them indefinitely without trial, and not incidentally, subjected many of the to beatings and inhumane treatment. AND THESE WERE THEIR OWN CITTIZENS.

    And the relevance to the topic is what, precisely? Do you not know that no one doubts KSM will be convicted? Do you think that’s the topic? There’s a mountain of non-torture evidence against KSM including his own open-air, un-coerced statements. No one thinks this is about whether KSM will get convicted.

    The point of Rick’s piece was whether it would endanger NYC to hold the trial there.

    Which brings me back to my point: read, then respond, not the other way around.

    So maybe, at least, you’ll stop going round saying, well, if they can do it, so can we. What some of us propose — trying them before the Military Commissions created by Congress for that purpose and embraced by Obama and Holder — hardly comes close to what the Brits were prepared to do — and did.

    It’s very relevant.

    Um, no. It’s not.

  36. 36
    beelzebub's gonad Said:
    10:45 pm 

    The people of New York and their elected representatives are OK with this. Bloomberg, especially, said it was exactly the right thing to do.

    So why are a bunch of Texans and Kentuckians and people who live far far away wringing their hands about what might happen to NYC? Sheesh. I

  37. 37
    michael reynolds Said:
    11:04 pm 

    Beelzebub:

    It’s been like that from the start. A bunch of red-staters from places bin Laden’s never even heard of run around demanding we round up Muslims, stockpile guns, torture anyone who looks at us cross-eyed and just generally freak out like a bunch of little girls seeing a tarantula.

    Meanwhile New Yorkers enjoy another bagel.

  38. 38
    John Burke Said:
    12:31 am 

    Sorry, Reynolds, when you serially throw out what you think are examples of successfully prosecuting terrorists, you’re bringing them up — with whatever baggage they may have. And they have a lot to tell us about how crazy it is to be giving KSM a trial in Federal court in Manhattan

    I’ve dealt with the UK-IRA example. Now whate about the first one you threw out above:

    “We tried the Lincoln conspirators in Washington — a city that had been very close to being lost to CSA forces on several occasions — despite the fact that armed bands of Confederate sympathizers were still around.”

    Yeah, we tried them in Washington, and Washington had once been threatened by Confederate forces, but by May 1865, the Confederacy couldn’t threaten anyone any longer and Lee had surrendered. There might have been Confederate “armed bands” roaming Missouri, but DC was a Union armed camp.

    But far more important was the nature of that trial of the Booth conspirators. They were tried by a Military Commission ordered into existence by President Andrew Johnson, based solely on an opinion of the Attorney General to the effect that the assassination was an act of war and without so much as asking Congress’s opinion. The Commission of nine officers convened less than a month after Lincoln was shot and four days after he was buried (swift justice in those days). By the President’s order, the Commission itself was tasked with setting up its own procedures and rules, which were generally fair to the accused but would be well short of ACLU demands. The accused were tried and convicted and several sentenced to death before mid-July. When the death sentence was handed down to be carried out promptly, lawyers for the convicted managed to get a Supreme Court Justice to issue a writ of habeus corpus to review the proceedings.

    Acting entirely on his own authority, President Johnson quashed the writ — in effect, ignoring it — and ordered the hangings to take place, as scheduled, which they did.

    So is this the justice you would have us impose on KSM? I’d be thrilled. And if we could figure on getting KSM and his cohorts to the hangman by three months from now, there would be little reason to worry about al Qaeda havingn time to organize any new terror atacks on NYC.

    But I’d settle for trying him before the Military Commissions created by Congress expressly for that purpose, with their myriad of due process protections and indpeendent military judges.

  39. 39
    John Burke Said:
    12:39 am 

    Reynolds: “It’s been like that from the start. A bunch of red-staters from places bin Laden’s never even heard of run around demanding we round up Muslims, stockpile guns, torture anyone who looks at us cross-eyed and just generally freak out like a bunch of little girls seeing a tarantula.

    “Meanwhile New Yorkers enjoy another bagel.”

    If you’re going to keep this stuff up, you will need to find another excuse when New Yorkers’ opinions begin to get noticed. I live in New York and every one I talk to is either bewildered or furious that Obama is doing this.

  40. 40
    JerryS Said:
    1:32 am 

    John Burke -

    Um… Maybe you need to talk to some other people. NY’ers, as a whole, are overwhelmingly supportive, from the Mayor to the city council, on down.

    Grow a pair.

  41. 41
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:18 am 

    John Burke:

    You are simply talking past me, past the issues that Rick raised, and past this thread.

    The debate was not over whether KSM would be convicted. It was over the question of whether we could do so safely.

    The examples I gave went to the fact that we and others were able to prosecute terrorists and did so without incurring intolerable dangers. That’s what we are talking about. You are talking about something different.

    Now, it’s a free country, so if yo want to go on debating an entirely different topic with some imaginary opponent, okay by me, just don’t expect a response.

  42. 42
    attorney Said:
    1:16 pm 

    Just trying to educate you. Read the Constitution of the United States carefully this time, not like when you read it in Civics or American history class in high school, and then go read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the US ratified and then see if I am not an educator.

  43. 43
    busboy33 Said:
    3:07 pm 

    @Richard Bottoms #24:

    Now THAT should be televised. Hell, make it pay-per-view.

  44. 44
    busboy33 Said:
    3:23 pm 

    Just saw this in a re-read of the comments . . .

    @obamathered #21:

    Just so I’m clear, are you blaming the fact that Bin Ladin hasn’t been captured or killed on Obama? Beyond that, the reason has something to do with polling? As in, there are polls that show Americans don’t want him captured or killed?

    From someone who has posted some fundamentally stupid comments in the past . . . this is far and away the most laughable crap you’ve ever typed. Oddly, I’m both disgusted and somewhat in awe at the sheer brass balls blaming Bin Ladin’s survival on Obama takes.

    Well done?

  45. 45
    Joe Said:
    7:56 pm 

    If we can’t try the puke,KSM, in a court of law in NYC, then the jihadist have already won. What, were supposed to be scared of operating our judicial system? What a boatload of crap. Try KSM in NY, convict his sorry ass, and then execute him. We don’t need rightwing hysterical theatrics, let the chickenhawks go hide under their beds until the trial is over. Conservatives need to grow a spine.

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