Friday, November 13, 2009

Trying Trial

Late word from Washington is that Attorney General Eric Holder will have 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and four other al-Qaeda operatives tried for the World Trade Center attacks in federal court in New York - literally in the shadow of Ground Zero.
Republicans have inevitably cried foul over this, but it took guts for Holder to go ahead with this. Although 9/11 was seen as an act of war, the current situation in Afghanistan finds al-Qaeda practically gone from that country after eight years of American and NATO involvement there in response to 9/11, yet that effort has apparently been as successful as it's going to get. The Taliban remain difficult foes. Al-Qaeda has resettled elsewhere, mainly in Pakistan. The best way to stand up against terrorist acts is to treat it as a law enforcement issue. Law enforcement should investigate and stop potential plots. That's how the British found that cell of terrorists hoping to blow up airliners over the Atlantic in 2006. Any plot that succeeds should be dealt with by the criminal justice system, and the punishment should fit the crime.
Also, putting Muhammad and his confederates on trial in the federal judicial system, we have the opportunity to show the world that our judicial system works and can bring the kind of justice that Muhammad and the others deserve without torture or indefinite imprisonment without a trial. Mayor Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Ray Kelly, said New York can handle the trial.
One bugaboo that remains is the failure to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. Although Holder says it won't be done by January 22, 2010 as planned, he thinks he can still have it done shortly thereafter. That would compensate for the resignation of White House counsel Gregory Craig, whose difficulties with closing Guantanamo supposedly forced his departure. The Justice Department claim Craig's resignation and the delayed Guantanamo closing are not related, but others see it as an abandonment and a scapegoating of Craig, one of Washington's best legal experts.

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