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Why Would Obama Take Such a Risk with KSM?

I was involved with a similar fiasco with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Holland. Why would Obama risk a constitutional crisis?

by
Leon de Winter

Bio

November 20, 2009 - 12:28 am
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So I imagine it doesn’t make any difference for the civilian legal system if John Doe is suspected of a single cruel murder or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is suspected of organizing the murder of thousands of people. If this is true — and it must be true — I imagine what would have happened if John Doe had been held six years at a military detention camp without the normal rights given to him by the system, had been waterboarded 183 times (a form of torture, according to the president), and accordingly confessed without having had the chance to use his Miranda rights, which never had been read to him.

In order to protect the purity and autonomy of the American legal system, shouldn’t this case against the suspected terrorists be tossed out by the judge? If I were to be the judge at the criminal case against KSM, I would not have another choice, I imagine.

I would have no choice but to toss out this case since the rights of the suspects have been seriously, chronically, and fundamentally violated by the U.S. government. If the road to a civilian court is taken by President Obama (Attorney General Eric Holder is only the messenger), he is taking the same risks as Ms. Verdonk. Formally, the president has the legitimacy to bring KSM to a civilian court, but at the same time he is shooting his own foot — only by compromising the system can KSM be sentenced. In a civilian court, I imagine, the denial of the essential and fundamental rights of the suspect — innocent until proven guilty, a speedy trial, access to a lawyer, the right to remain silent, the right not to be tortured — can only lead to dismissal.

And if a simple visitor from Holland can figure this out, the attorney general and the president can figure this out too.

Which brings me to another question: If they know what I know, why did they do it? Is it really only to demonize Bush — the prosecution has to share all kinds of sensitive information with the suspects — and to project the misery of the present economic situation and the dangerous stagnation in Afghanistan on the previous administration?

In the congressional hearing, Holder pretended that he was explaining the decision to bring KSM to New York, but he simply stated that it was the right thing to do after all kinds of deliberations. Holder wasn’t able to come up with just a single argument. Rita Verdonk was fighting for the leadership position of her party, and she had thought isolating Ayaan would strengthen her chances. Why is President Obama risking legal disaster? To pay tribute to his extreme left-wing followers? To impress the rest of the world (most non-Americans think the American judicial system is a joke, and the upcoming KSM show is only making it worse)? Is he trying to create chaos? Why?

There must be smart readers who can help me out — I am flabbergasted by all of this.

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Leon de Winter is a novelist and columnist for Elsevier Magazine in the Netherlands. His last novel, The Right of Return is a thriller set in Tel Aviv in 2024. He presently lives in Los Angeles.
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