November 14, 2009

Could Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Get A Liberal Judge?

Like I'm supposed to know the answer to that one? Of course the terror suspect terrorist, when put on trial in a New York court instead of by a military tribunal could get a very liberal judge, but whose to know until the time comes?  Eric Holder maybe.

By way of background on the issue of where to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Big Government has the story;
This particular example highlights the underlying notion that terrorists should be privy to the same rights as United States citizens. In this instance, President Obama did in fact exercise his discretion (if you can call it that) by allowing the trial to take place in civilian court. Attorney Brian Levi serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. As Levi noted today, “As a legal matter President Obama could very well also have tried these five detainees before military tribunals, as five others are…”

There is longstanding precedent for the use of military tribunals to deal with the difficult situation of unlawful combatants captured in a time of war. As Arthur Herman wrote in Commentary, this is the original path the Department of Justice and the Bush administration sought:

The rules on Gitmo detention and on interrogation constituted a valiant attempt to deal with an unprecedented legal situation. The same was true of the system of military “commissions” or tribunals for trying suspects at Gitmo. Here the Justice Department largely followed the precedent of tribunals used by the American military during World War II, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1942 decision Ex Parte Quirin.

As 9/11 victim relatives Debra Burlingame and Tim Sumner lay out in a letter and petition to President Obama, and as anyone who has watched an episode of Law and Order can surmise, there are a host of thorny issues that could arise in the civilian trial of an unlawful military combatant. These detainees weren’t Mirandized. Secondly, their extended detention, a defense attorney could claim, was in violation of the assurance of a swift and speedy trial. Furthermore, given that they were caught on a battlefield, the chain of evidence is not up to par with the (rightly) strict standards of our civilian courts. Could their cases be dismissed outright? These are legitimate legal concerns raised with these cases.
Liberals have argued that he was not caught on the battlefield.  Of course in a War on Terror a battlefield is not confimed to a war zone.  9/11 proved that, but the liberals just don't get it. That and the specificss of the circumstances are a discussion for another post.   I want to focus on what the transfer of venues means.

Liberals may have a valid point in saying that trials prove to the world that America firmly believes in due process and have faith in the country's judicial system.  The question is, does America need to care about what others think?  In Obama's world yes.  Again that's worth discussing at some other point in time.

But let's focus on the possible impacts of creating a civil case.  There is a security risk to the city.  There is a personal safety risk to the judge, jurors and lawyers involved.  There is also a risk of acquittal (though small).

This is going to sound very cynical but might that not be a good thing? Wouldn't acquitting a terrorist send a bad message to terrorists around the world? Sure - their actions have no consequences to themselves personally, it's open season.  It would free a dangerous man, isn't that bad? Not according to Eric Holder, they have back-up charges ready to go. Would it set a dangerous precedent? Probably, yeah.  So how could it possibly be a good thing?

It might shake the sensibilities of Democrats enough to smarten up about the War on Terror and that you can't fight a war as a police action.  Terrorists aren't criminals, they are terrorists.  If it doesn't impact the likes of Holder, it will certainly affect voters and make them realize you have to fight this like a war.  It might smarten up liberals about the battlefield issue.  Why?  Because some liberal judge freeing a confessed terrorist on a technicality or out of pure liberalism, will worry people about the logic of liberal actions.

This isn't a political good thing, it's a national security good thing.  Everyone, me included,  would be horiffied if that monster did not get convicted and sentenced to death for his terrible crimes.  But people need to realize 9/11 isn't ancient history.  They need to realize the new world the national interest now faces.  Ironically it's conservatives who realize the new dynamic and liberals are the ones stuck in a past that never really existed.

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