Feature

A Nuremberg for al Qaida terrorists

Military justice worked at Nuremberg, “and it can work again today,” said William Shawcross in The New York Times.

William Shawcross
The New York Times

In seeking justice for the perpetrators of 9/11, said William Shawcross, let us not forget Nuremberg. At the end of World War II, the Nazis were tried before military tribunals at Nuremberg, and justice was delivered swiftly and fairly. Just as important, by making public reams of evidence, the trials provided us with an “invaluable” historical record of the Nazi defendants’ genocidal crimes. By modeling the Guantánamo hearings on that earlier tribunal, we could develop a “similar, vital history of al Qaida” that will “inform generations to come.”

So just as judges and prosecutors from all Allied nations took part in the trials of 1945–46, countries with a jurisdictional claim against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—“those who lost citizens on 9/11”—should be invited to send military lawyers to Guantánamo. The trial should also be carried out in “full view of the press” so that the whole world can bear witness to the proceedings. If our goal is to prove to the world that the U.S. is a just nation, Mohammed and his co-conspirators do not have to be tried in civilian courts. Military justice worked at Nuremberg, “and it can work again today.”

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