Saturday, November 21, 2009

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: In a civilian trial, the American people lose no matter what the outcome

Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other co-conspirators in the 9/11 attacks in civilian court is a guaranteed loss for the American people no matter what the outcome of the trial.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM, committed an act of war and terrorism on 9/11. Civilian courts can deal with the Federal laws broken, but they're not so adept at handling acts of war. Furthermore, rules civilian criminal investigation and prosecution must follow weren't obeyed, nor were rights due U.S. citizens observed during custody. Most notably, KSM was water boarded, and you can't do that to a U.S. citizen if you plan to take him to civilian court. He wasn't read his Miranda rights* nor was he properly charged and held. All of this means there's great potential for technicalities that don't matter to a military court trying a foreign combatant or terrorist (really a spy or saboteur in this case) may hand an acquittal or even "not guilty" verdict to KSM's defense team.

If KSM is tried and convicted as President Obama confidently declared will happen, it may actually be worse for Americans. KSM has been given all the rights of an American citizen rather than those of foreign combatant, spy or saboteur. If he's convicted and executed, there's now the precedent that someone afforded full rights of U.S. citizenship under the Constitution may be held without bail or charges, water boarded, interrogated without being read Miranda rights and without access to defense council and yet still be successfully prosecuted and convicted. That would mean the rules designed to protect me as a civilian innocent of crime can be disregarded by the police and I could still be convicted.

Either way, there can be no claim of fair trial or display of the vaunted American justice system. We might have come closer had President Obama not made his pronouncement, or if administration officials hadn't guaranteed we won't abide by a not guilty verdict or an acquittal:
Other Justice Department officials have said that even if Mr. Mohammed is acquitted, the Obama administration will keep him locked up forever as a “combatant” under the laws of war.
So, if we don't get the outcome we want, we'll revert to military rules. Why bother with the expense and effort of a civilian trial again? Oh, right. To show off our fairness. Holder, who has bungled this from the beginning, made that prospect even worse with his comments:
“Failure is not an option,” Mr. Holder said.
Really, Attorney General Holder, if the only outcome possible is a guilty verdict and execution, then how can you have a fair trial?

The only reason to do this is to try to keep Obama's campaign promise about closing Guantanamo Bay's detainee facility, but Holder has insisted this was his decision. While he's no doubt trying very hard, at the administration's behest, to keep Obama clear of this, there's a huge problem with Holder's claims. He lacks the authority to make this happen.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who held his position during the Bush administration from 2001-2005, said that Holder lacked the legal standing to decide to move alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other terror detainees to federal courts in New York City to stand trial.

"The attorney general doesn't have the authority to mandate that the secretary of Defense turn somebody over to him and yield jurisdiction so that something that would have been done in a military setting is done in a civilian setting," Ashcroft told the Christ Stigall show on KCMO radio [Wednesday] morning [November 18th].

Didn't President Obama promise the most Transparent administration in history? Why yes he did. We'll put that lie down next to closing Gitmo, right near the public having five days to review any bill that goes to the President's desk.



While we're at it, where are my online videos of Lobbyist and SEIU President Andy Stern's visits with Barack Obama in the White House? Americans for Tax Reform and the Alliance for Worker Freedom are asking for investigations into those visits.

This presidential administration hasn't been honest with us from the beginning on just about anything, but has been especially duplicitous about the KSM trial. It's being done this way for political reasons, and authority had to come from the Oval Office no matter how often or vehemently Mr. Holder denies it. By now, they're no doubt wondering how to get off this political land mine they've stepped on without detonating it.

*Failing to read KSM his Miranda rights might not be as devastating to the prosecution as many people believe. In listening to an interview with a defense attorney, I learned that contrary to popular belief, the police don't have to read you Miranda rights until they question you. If any interrogation occurs prior to the reading of Miranda rights, statements by the suspect are inadmissible in court, but witness statements and other evidence may still be entered.

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