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9/11 mastermind KSM's military trial: Already a disaster?
The chaotic arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other al Qaeda defendants highlights the stubborn challenges of bringing terrorists to justice
 
A courtroom sketch of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: The admitted 9/11 mastermind repeatedly declined to respond to a judge's questions at his arraignment in Cuba.
A courtroom sketch of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: The admitted 9/11 mastermind repeatedly declined to respond to a judge's questions at his arraignment in Cuba.
AP Photo/Janet Hamlin, Pool

The long-awaited military trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is off to a messy start at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On Saturday, Mohammed and four other accused plotters repeatedly disrupted what should have been a routine arraignment hearing, taking breaks for prayers and refusing to answer the judge's questions. A defense attorney wore traditional Muslim garb and asked that female prosecutors dress more conservatively to avoid offending her client. Is the controversial military tribunal already an embarrassment?

Yes. And it's what we deserve: KSM and his buddies wasted no time turning their military tribunal into "a complete and utter farce," says Charles P. Pierce at Esquire. And sadly, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We didn't have the guts to bring these men to justice in a federal court, "to have treated them simply as common criminals, which would have not only demystified them in the public eye," but "[dealt] a severe blow to their own self-indentities as soldiers in a cause." That said, much of the evidence was obtained through torture, not even admissable in a civilian court.
"We deserve better than a Gitmo show trial. Or do we?"

Yes. A misguided approach is wrecking this trial: "We have the crime of the century, willing defendants, mountains of evidence" — this trial should be a slam dunk no matter where it's held, says Terry McDermott at The Daily Beast. But the arraignment barely even focused on the actual crimes, instead examining "how well or poorly the defendants have been treated." This "daft" approach suggests that the whole endeavor will be an embarrassment.
"Messy legal rules and procedures make Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial doubtful"

C'mon. KSM's trial would be messy anywhere: This will be "the fairest, most transparent military" trial in history, says The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Sure, the defendants are trying to turn it into a joke in an attempt to discredit America — with the help of their lawyers, who want to get famous by "putting the Bush administration's detention policies on trial." But remember, they would have done the same thing in a civilian court, so let's just suck it up and get on with giving the victims the justice they deserve. 
"The KSM trial spectacle"

 

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