Senator John Cornyn of the Great Republic of Texas knows when a man needs killin’. And accused mastermind of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is just such a man in Cornyn’s eyes. Forget all the talk about how safety is jeopardized by putting him on trial in a “civilian court” like a “common criminal.” They know better.
The fear is clear. If KSM is tried in the Southern District of New York, liberal Manhattan jurors won’t vote to execute him.
But one challenge in seeking the “ultimate justice” is New York’s jury pool, which is generally perceived by prosecutors and defense lawyers to be more liberal than other places.
Indeed, the last executions in federal cases in Manhattan occurred in the 1950s, most notably the case of the Rosenbergs.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, agreed with [Texas Rep. Lamar] Smith that suspected terrorists ought to be tried by military commissions.
“It is inconceivable that we would bring these alleged terrorists back to New York for trial, to the scene of the carnage they created eight years ago, and give them a platform to mock the suffering of their victims and the victims’ families, and rally their followers to continue waging jihad against America,” he said in a statement.
What is most troubling about these politicians is their efforts to deliberately convey to the public the belief that the legal system, the Constitution, only applies when it suits them. The fact that there is a dispute over the propriety of trying KSM in New York demonstrates that they’ve been very effective in crafting a belief that anyone labeled a “terrorist” falls outside the realm of the criminal justice system.
Republican lawmakers and the self-promoting independent senator from Connecticut, Joseph Lieberman, pounced on the chance to appear on television. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they said military tribunals are a more secure and appropriate venue for trying terrorism suspects. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a former judge who should have more regard for the law, offered the absurd claim that Mr. Obama was treating the 9/11 conspirators as “common criminals.”
Yet they jump through hoops, blurt out inflammatory claims as if our system only applies to “common criminals,” and seek to delude the public with false claims that the system upon which American justice is grounded is suddenly incapable of dealing with an incoming flight from Gitmo? They suggest that there must be another secret America, where trials are conducted in secret to protect our ears from the evils of torture and our people from the threat of still more jihadist bombers?
Here’s a newsflash. We already know about the waterboarding. It’s been in all the papers. We know that KSM was subject to waterboarding 183 times. That’s old news, and the disclosure at trial isn’t going to surprise anyone.
Here’s another newsflash. If the jihadists want to blow up a building to show us what they think of our system, our “freedoms”, there are plenty around. We’ve got a country filled with big building built from Indiana limestone, and even if KSM is tried in a newly built courtroom on the Island of Cuba, they can still blow one up in Nebraska and capture our attention.
We have one thing to offer in support of our position that America represents freedom, democracy and the rule of law, even in the face of difficult and troubled times. Our adherence to our own principles. I know, this seems wrong to those who never really like the idea of giving a terrorist a better shot than he gave us, but that’s what distinguishes us from them.
And our Senators know all this, so I’m hardly telling them anything new. This is just the surrounding fluff to make palatable their real reason for their vigorous opposition to trying KSM in Manhattan. They just don’t trust New Yorkers to put him to death. It’s that simple. And the funny thing is, they’re probably right.
The question isn’t whether we’re capable of trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but whether America could stand letting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed live after the trial.
But before we leave the “political ideology” front, Jonathon Turley asks a very good question.
The decision to send some detainees to military tribunals, however, is a baffling contradiction. Holder has denied the Administration the high ground in the debate by trying to appease both sides and deny due process to some of these accused individuals. It is a case of snatching hypocrisy out of the jaws of principle.Just as Cornyn and Lieberman can’t have two Americas, neither can Holder.