An emotional debate is raging over the Obama administration's decision to try five 9/11 suspects, including "mastermind" terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), in the city they attacked. While some say holding a transparent civilian trial in New York City will provide closure, others counter that a drawn-out "circus" will reopen painful wounds. National polls show that a majority of Americans reject the idea, even as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg supports it. Is trying 9/11 perpetrators so close to Ground Zero a masterstroke — or a nightmare? (Watch Rep. Peter King (R-NY) criticize the decision to try KSM in New York)
Why make New York more of a target? The trials will only encourage another terrorist attack on Manhattan or a "jailbreak effort," says Dan McLaughlin in The New Ledger — not to mention "what promises to be many months of grandstanding by the terrorists." Why let them preach their propaganda for the sake of "empty symbolism"?
"Nine reasons why the New York City terror trials are a bad idea"
The trials will be a PR victory for American ideals: The terrorists won't be able to preach anything, says Steven Simon in The New York Times. "Federal courts do not permit TV cameras in the courtroom, so the opportunity for 'real time' jihadist propagandizing won’t exist." And, even if the trial can't erase the traumas of 9/11, putting Mohammed through a open judicial process in New York, "where the greatest suffering was inflicted," will strengthen "the forces of good and undercut the extremists."
"Why we should put jihad on trial"
The trial will be a second Ground Zero: If I had my way, says Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal, the defendants "would be taken by helicopter to a height of about 1,000 feet over Ground Zero and pushed out the door [so they] could experience what so many of their victims did in the awful final flickering seconds of their lives." Subjecting New York to a long, risk-filled trial is “the legal equivalent of [the gaping hole at] Ground Zero." It's "a metaphor of American incompetence—of things not going forward."
"Two Ground Zeroes"
New Yorkers don't cower before criminals — why start now? What could destroy these men's images as potent super-villains more successfully than a "dull trial that ends with them serving time in central New Jersey"? asks Ezra Klein in The Washington Post. The more we treat the 9/11 suspects as “common criminals” subject to loads of “bureaucratic humiliations,” the less appealing terrorism becomes for other would-be jihadists.
"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is not the master of magnetism"
SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF 9/11 TRIALS:
• Rudy vs. Bloomberg: New York's top politicians clash over 9/11 terror trials
• Are the 9/11 trials a victory for terrorists -- or for justice?
• Did torture stop another 9/11?