While there is ample reason to believe that these will be show trials, I believe, along with others, the show trials will inure more to the benefit of the jihadists. I think they are neither designed for the purpose nor likely to achieve the aim of persuading the Muslim world or anyone else that we are so fair we are willing to sacrifice our best interests for the world’s pat on the head. They are a naked appeal to the left here and abroad who insist on treating war as a criminal act and jihadists as individual felons not worthy of concerted military responses.
The trials will also surely be used as a platform from which to attack the Bush administration’s militant response to terrorism, which included the waterboarding of KSM. Those in the defense and intelligence communities and prior administration officials who have saved us from further outrages will surely be the targets of the defendants on a world stage. The defendants will be allowed to broadcast freely throughout the world by a press generally unsympathetic to those who nabbed these monsters and brought them to account.
To paraphrase an old friend, this would be a first: the victor dragging himself off in chains.
As Congressman Pete Hoekstra reminds us:
KSM has already confessed to being not only the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, but also to planning multiple additional attacks on Americans. He is already being held in the best possible security at Guantanamo Bay, and he has already been charged for his crimes in a military commission process where he faces the death penalty.
What possible benefit is there to bringing him into the United States for trial? There is absolutely none for the American people, but there is every benefit to KSM and al-Qaeda propagandists, who will use it as a platform to put the United States on trial and broadcast their propaganda and jihadist ideology to the world. After the Fort Hood shootings, is this propaganda really what we need on television day after day after day to incite more violence?
Rep. Hoekstra is referring to the military court proceedings at Guantanamo initiated in 2008, in which KSM refused counsel (and was joined in this refusal by his co-defendants). He stated at the time that he believed only in Sharia law and asked to be martyred by being sentenced to death. The decision to transfer the case to a civilian court begins his legal proceedings anew. It will take some time to go to trial, of course. He hasn’t even been indicted by a civilian jury yet, nor has Congress even received the requisite notice of any transfer of these men to U.S. soil.
Aside from the obvious problems of giving these thugs a world stage on which to prance and encourage more jihadists to follow them, aside from the security problems this trial will pose, and aside from the evidentiary problems in managing to keep classified information under wraps, the trial venue has a truly insidious effect. It makes us forget that we are at war with enemies who are looking for every means to breach our defenses and harm us. As Tom Maguire observes, the press is already referring to the defendants as “suspects” and KSM as “accused 9/11 mastermind,” as if they were individual bad guys, like burglars or serial murderers, and not an armed and dangerous force to be defeated on a field of battle.
Going back to this 9/10 mentality may not be so acceptable to voters these days, especially considering that we just saw where that kind of thinking can lead at Fort Hood.