Emotionalism vs. Pragmatism or Republican vs. Democrat – Part 1: Trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed In Civilian Court

by Ben Hoffman

There has been a lot of criticism of the decision by Eric Holder to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a N.Y. civilian court rather than in a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay. (Contrary to right-wingers, Barack Obama didn’t make that decision.)

Holder was on the News Hour this evening and Jim Lehrer asked Holder to explain his decision. Holder consulted with a lot of people (no, Obama wasn’t one of them) and came to his decision after weighing all options. It wasn’t an easy decision. Despite all the evidence against Mohammed, there are many legal problems involved since he was tortured into talking. The confessions probably won’t be allowed to be used and Mohammed’s legal defense will surely focus on the issue of torture.

Trying Mohammed in a public criminal trial has the possibility of turning Mohammed into some kind of hero among Islamic extremists. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to see our legal system in action and no matter what the crime, everyone in the United States is granted due process of the law. This view requires some level of confidence in our legal system.

There is little to no chance that Mohammed could be found not guilty, but if he were, he would simply be charged with other crimes and would never be allowed to walk free.

News Hour commentators Mark Shields and David Brooks commented on Holder’s decision. Brooks made the case that the 9/11 attack was an act of war. That may be the whole problem with how we’ve handled the aftermath of 9/11. The Afghan government offered to try Osama bin-Laden in Islamic court immediately after the attack but George Bush turned down the offer. Now, eight years after the attack, bin-Laden remains at large. Instead, we waged war on the people of Afghanistan and probably created more terrorists than we’ve killed.

Imagine having a war fought in your name. The war in Afghanistan was a war on one man: Osama bin-Laden. Had we taken the other route — that of treating the 9/11 as a crime — bin-Laden wouldn’t have been elevated to the hero status of radical Islamics. He also wouldn’t have been elevated to the villain status which propelled Bush to hero status in the eyes of many here in the United States, mainly due to his emotional rhetoric. “You can run but you can’t hide.” “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” “If America shows weakness and uncertainty, the world will drift toward tragedy. That will not happen on my watch.” These were the words Bush used in some of his speeches.

What if, instead, we did as Bill Clinton did with the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 and treated this as a crime rather than a war? Bin-Laden probably would have been lynched after a speedy trial. We could have used our newly formed alliance with nearly every country on earth to stamp out Islamic terrorism. We could have saved a trillion dollars that we’ve spent on the two wars, not to mention the nearly 5,000 lives of American soldiers and the 100s of thousands of Iraqi and Afghanistan civilian lives.

Of course, had we treated the 9/11 attack as a crime, right-wingers wouldn’t have gotten that warm and fuzzy feeling they get when they can hate and when they feel like they’re getting some kind of revenge. It goes back to the inferiority complex of a right-winger.

https://drudgeretort.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/the-inferiority-complex-of-a-right-winger/

12 Comments to “Emotionalism vs. Pragmatism or Republican vs. Democrat – Part 1: Trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed In Civilian Court”

  1. One problem is that Osama Bin Laden most likely wasn’t even responsible for 9/11. Just my opinion:

    At eleven o’clock, on the morning of September 11, the Bush administration had already announced that Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon. This assertion was made prior to the conduct of an indepth police investigation.

    That same evening at 9.30 pm, a “War Cabinet” was formed integrated by a select number of top intelligence and military advisors. And at 11.00 pm, at the end of that historic meeting at the White House, the “War on Terrorism” was officially launched.

    The decision was announced to wage war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in retribution for the 9/11 attacks. The following morning on September 12th, the news headlines indelibly pointed to “state sponsorship” of the 9/11 attacks. In chorus, the US media was calling for a military intervention against Afghanistan.

    Barely four weeks later, on the 7th of October, Afghanistan was bombed and invaded by US troops. Americans were led to believe that the decison to go to war had been taken on the spur of the moment, on the evening of September 11, in response to the attacks and their tragic consequences.

    Little did the public realize that a large scale theater war is never planned and executed in a matter of weeks. The decision to launch a war and send troops to Afghanistan had been taken well in advance of 9/11.

  2. I think any offer by the Afghanis to do anything in an Islamic court is a joke. I don’t believe, either, that Obama didn’t privately have some weighing in with Holder on the issue. I also disagree that “everyone in the US is granted due process under the law”. Every CITIZEN is granted due process under the law. Military combatants are granted due process under the Geneva Convention, and since KSM isn’t either, we should hardly be granting him the due process that even a McVeigh deserved.

    The only people who want to try him in a civilian court (which, by the way, is supposed to be for civilians), are those who seem only to want America to apologize yet again for what they consider to be torture against those of another religion and to show its humanity on the world stage. These are the wrong reasons. It should be about whether this guy should be treated like a civilian, like a military combatant, or like a terrorist.

    The US has a tough decision ahead. McVeigh got the death penalty, so did the Virginia sniper (Mohammed). Shouldn’t KSM get the same? If so, what message does this send the radicals?

    Regardless, this trial should be about the people killed on 9/11 and the justice they deserve, NOT the justice all the Bush-haters think they deserve for putting up with eight years of him.

  3. oops “Muhammad”, not “Mohammed”.

  4. [The only people who want to try him in a civilian court (which, by the way, is supposed to be for civilians), are those who seem only to want America to apologize yet again for what they consider to be torture against those of another religion and to show its humanity on the world stage.]

    Ah, again, we see emotionalism from a right-winger at the expense of pragmatism. You hate our country so much that you don’t trust our legal system.

    • There’s no “hate” involved, Ben. That’s a weak cop out. I just have not seen any real pragmatic justification for why a civilian process is being preferred over a military one in regards to foreign terrorists, especially those who have already pleaded guilty to the crime. The only one that seems to really emerge is that America is not a military nation, therefore let’s avoid a military court and military prison at all costs as a testament to our American ideals. Taking it further gets into the anti-Bush agenda, which is foolish.

      Based on your response, one could respond in kind by saying that you hate your country or distrust the military so much that you distrust the military tribunal system that was ratified in 2006, but that’s not me. Instead, I’m genuinely interested in your reasoning – for one reason, I think America does need to view this as more than just a military case as you’re suggesting, but to what degree, and at what cost?

      • Our military tribunal system doesn’t define our country in the way our civilian justice system does, but that’s not my argument. The problem is, KSM was tortured into talking and for that reason, a military tribunal would be a farce. Also, in the new rules for a military trial, the defendant is not allowed to see some of the evidence used against him.

        So, in a way it is symbolic.

  5. Thanks. I can respect the symbolic argument, if I interpret yours correctly, that America must stand for its principles even when it’s hard to do so. I agree to a large extent, I just can’t make that final leap where just because he was supposedly “tortured”, he now gets rights as an American would. I don’t see that as a matter of principle, and I think the whole issue is getting too “p.c.”, but I guess we’ll agree to disagree there.

    I also don’t agree that a military trial would be dishonest, dishonorable, or a “farce” as you suggest. Are you saying you would distrust a military tribunal?

    Regardless of our differing opinions and however he happens to be tried, I think it will be a very symbolic and important trial nonetheless. Not just in regards to the law or Obama’s Presidency, but in regards to America as a world citizen.

  6. [Are you saying you would distrust a military tribunal?]

    I’m saying that with the new rules, a military tribunal would be a farce. How could there even be a pretense of a fair trial when he doesn’t have the right to see the evidence against him or cross examine those testifying against him?

    He’s going to be found guilty no matter what, so we might just as well try him in the public arena. Even Mayor Bloomberg approved of the decision to try KSM in N.Y.

    [Regardless of our differing opinions and however he happens to be tried, I think it will be a very symbolic and important trial nonetheless. Not just in regards to the law or Obama’s Presidency, but in regards to America as a world citizen.]

    I agree. Plus we’ll get to watch it on T.V. Fire up the popcorn! 🙂

  7. “He’s going to be found guilty no matter what, so we might just as well try him in the public arena.”

    Ohhh that wont be a farce?

  8. “How could there even be a pretense of a fair trial when he doesn’t have the right to see the evidence against him or cross examine those testifying against him?”

    So that out ways our national security and how we gather intelligence? And how come some of the jihadists are still getting military tribunals? And you do know this will cripple our military intelligence in the future, right? Do you even care?

    • [And you do know this will cripple our military intelligence in the future, right? Do you even care?]

      Wow! You can predict the future! Amazing! Tell me, what will the winning lottery number be for tomorrow’s drawing?

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