The Obama administration's decision to try self-described 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four associates in a Manhattan federal court— rather than in military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay — is drawing sharp criticism from conservatives. Sarah Palin condemns it as "atrocious," while former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani says the move gives the 9/11 perpetrators "unnecessary" legal advantages, and suggests "we’re not at war with terrorists any more." Does a civilian trial play into terrorists' hands, or does it strike a blow for American justice? (Watch our Sunday Talk Show Briefing on New York trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed)
This is a huge victory for al Qaeda: Unlike a military proceeding, says John Yoo in The Wall Street Journal, which would allow the U.S. to withhold vital national security secrets, this plays right into al Qaeda's hands. In a civilian court, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed "will enjoy…the right to demand that the government produce…all of the information that it has on [him], and how it got it."
"The KSM trial will be an intelligence bonanza for al Qaida"
A civilian trial is a win for U.S. values: Trying the accused terrorists in civilian courts allows us to finally bring them to justice, in the "fairest way" possible, says the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, and helps offset the damage George Bush inflicted on America's image. Letting Khalid Shaikh Mohammed “have his day in court makes an eloquent statement about the Obama administration’s determination to avenge the victims of terrorism within the rule of law.”
“Plan for Mohammed’s trial upholds U.S. values”
Why give terrorists this PR opportunity? I get that this move is designed to show "how we are better than Mohammed and all fanatics like him,” says Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News. But "New York showed him that eight years ago.” Trying him near Ground Zero just gives him “the stage he has sought for years.”
“Evil 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed should not be given the stage he seeks”
The right's "tantrum" is contrived: Though conservatives say prosecuting Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in civilian court sets a dangerous precedent, says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly, it's worth noting that "Republicans and Fox News personalities didn’t whine like children" when we put other Muslim terrorists on trial, and then locked them up in American supermax prisons.
"A rather obvious decision"