Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

American Justice on Hold for the 9/11 Mastermind

Posted in United States by Dan on February 10, 2010

Does everyone remember Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the notorious mastermind of the September 11 attacks?  If not, maybe this will give you a hint; he is otherwise known as the Al’Qaeda operative who was responsible for the collapse of America’s two tallest buildings, which resulted in the killing of 3,000 innocent Americans on a clear Tuesday morning.

Of course you do.  Everyone in this country does…and with good reason; KSM has transformed into a household name for U.S. intelligence.  The families of the 9/11 victims view KSM as the most infamous killer in the history of New York City…indeed the most well-known killer in modern day U.S. history.

And just as KSM is known for his role in Al’Qaeda’s most successful terrorist operation, he is also a 21st century acronym for America’s next high-profile civilian trial, held just blocks away from Ground Zero.

Well, that was before Congressional Republicans and Conservative Democrats pressured the Obama administration to remove the trial from New York City.  All of those who were hoping that KSM would be brought to justice just minutes away from his crime are now sadly disappointed.

The New York Times and the National Interest have both reported that the Obama administration has asked the Justice Department to reconsider its location, going against its original recommendation of holding the KSM trial in a New York District courthouse.  And to make matters worse, President Obama is using the most meager of excuses; 1) the risk of terrorism during the trial is simply too high, and 2) the proceedings would cost around $200 million.

I, for one, am highly disappointed by this decision.  For the millions of Americans who consider the U.S. justice system as one of the most respected and distinguished in the world, this decision comes as a shocking anomaly.

Here is a rant that everyone may find interesting (and perhaps controversial):

What is the big deal of holding a civilian trial for KSM in a New York City-based federal court?  This is the big question that opponents of the measure have yet to answer in detail.  Is it because the trial would somehow unleash a wave of terrorism inside the city?  If so, I would not worry too much.  The New York City Police Department is the most well-trained and equipped in this country.  There are at least 40,000 NYPD officers throughout the city, with officers routinely called in from surrounding areas in New Jersey and Long Island if security issues get out of hand (luckily this has not happened since the September 11 attacks).

To be fair, the KSM trial does have the potential of becoming a security risk.  But let’s think for a moment.  The presidential convoy is a security risk, but this does not stop the President from traveling where he needs to be.  New Years Eve celebrations across the country are prime for terrorists, but this does not stop Americans from ushering in the new-year in a public-forum.  Concerts and sporting events are security risks as well, but hundreds of millions of Americans on an annual basis defy the odds in order to experience a good time.  How is the KSM trial any different?

And I don’t want to hear about costs.  Since when has this country cared about managing money?  We spend more on military expenditures then the next 13 countries combined; we sacrifice domestic programs for more advanced missiles; and we consistently send billions of dollars to our allies in economic and security incentives.  I highly doubt that a meager $200 million will make that much more of a difference.

While the decision is not final- and while the debate in Washington over the KSM proceedings are still ongoing- I hope the Obama administration does not waver in its civilian-approach.  KSM may be an enemy combatant- a politically correct term for a terrorist- but using the federal court system is the best way of demonstrating America’s dedication to the rule of law.

While giving KSM American liberties in a federal-court seems repugnant (and this sentiment is certainly understandable), it is the best technique to use if the United States wants to boast the principles of democracy.  More often than not, recruiters join Al’Qaeda and other militant groups as a response to American hypocrisy.  Osama bin-Laden & Company routinely portray the U.S. as a hypocritical superpower; on the one hand pledging human rights and on the other supporting  regimes that are known for human-rights abuses and political persecution(like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan for instance).  Holding a well-known terrorist in a civilian setting- with 5th Amendment rights and the right to an attorney- may help to slow the AQ recruitment process down a bit.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of Newsweek’s Declassified


3 Responses

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  1. Jotman said, on February 10, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    “A country that will spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting terrorism with guns can surely afford to pay the relatively small cost of fighting terrorism with Justice…”

    Justice for New York City


  2. austin c said, on February 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Under the pressure of public opinion as well as the shock wave of the MA defeat, the Dem. politicians and the mayor of New York have to yield to public demand that the civil trial in NY city has to move to other places either to save money or to avoid security risk of NY city. Even Joe Biden has to announce that his son will not run the race for his senate seat, after Massachusetts , He has to believe that the senate seat he left in Delaware does not belong to Biden family, but the people of Delaware.

  3. brydges said, on February 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Supporting a sports team when they are doing well is called joining the band wagon

    When elected officials align their views with the will of the people it is called doing their job

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