The decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Manhattan is, so far (but give it time), the most suicidal of any American administration in history.
For instance, the hazard to American intelligence:
Trying KSM in civilian court will be an intelligence bonanza for al Qaeda and the hostile nations that will view the U.S. intelligence methods and sources that such a trial will reveal. The proceedings will tie up judges for years on issues best left to the president and Congress.
Whether a jury ultimately convicts KSM and his fellows, or sentences them to death, is beside the point. The treatment of the 9/11 attacks as a criminal matter rather than as an act of war will cripple American efforts to fight terrorism. It is in effect a declaration that this nation is no longer at war.
I believe that is exactly one of the reasons why the Obama administration is so hell-bent on this: to proclaim that the US is no longer at war with Islamist terrorists.
And more consequences:
Now, however, KSM and his co-defendants will enjoy the benefits and rights that the Constitution accords to citizens and resident aliens—including the right to demand that the government produce in open court all of the information that it has on them, and how it got it.
Even more harmful to our national security will be the effect a civilian trial of KSM will have on the future conduct of intelligence officers and military personnel.
Andy McCarthy explores another reason for the trial:
That is, Pres. Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, experienced litigators, fully realize that in civilian court, the Qaeda quintet can and will demand discovery of mountains of government intelligence. They will demand disclosures about investigative tactics; the methods and sources by which intelligence has been obtained; the witnesses from the intelligence community, the military, and law enforcement who interrogated witnesses, conducted searches, secretly intercepted enemy communications, and employed other investigative techniques. They will attempt to compel testimony from officials who formulated U.S. counterterrorism strategy, in addition to U.S. and foreign intelligence officers. As civilian “defendants,” these war criminals will put Bush-era counterterrorism tactics under the brightest public spotlight in American legal history.
This is exactly what President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder know will happen. And because it is unnecessary to have this civilian trial at all, one must conclude that this is exactly what Obama and Holder want to see happen.
The trial will last years, possibly a decade, which works to the terrorists’ advantage:
From indictment to trial, the civilian case against the 9/11 terrorists will be a years-long seminar, enabling al-Qaeda and its jihadist allies to learn much of what we know and, more important, the methods and sources by which we come to know it. But that is not the half of it. By moving the case to civilian court, the president and his attorney general have laid the groundwork for an unprecedented surrender of our national-defense secrets directly to our most committed enemies.
Jennifer Rubin speculates on the trial:
And will it really stay in Manhattan, in such close proximity to Ground Zero, or should I say, “the crime scene”? Certainly a change of venue motion will be forthcoming among the hundreds, if not thousands, of motions that will flow from the defendant — oh yes, that’s defendant KSM, now entitled to the presumption of innocence – and his stable of lawyers.
On a lighter note, I was talking to a friend the other day on the possible change of venue. He suggested KSM should file to move the trial to the Bronx – “they never convict anyone in the Brox.”
“This is not a decision that I would have made,” the governor said when asked about the upcoming federal trial of KSM and his four underlings.
“Our country was attacked on its own soil on Sept. 11, 2001, and New York was very much the epicenter of that attack,” Paterson said after an appearance at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new CUNY campus in East Harlem.
“Over 2,700 lives were lost,” he went on. “It’s very painful; we’re still having trouble getting over it. We still haven’t been able to rebuild that site, and having those terrorists tried so close to the attack is going to be an encumbrance on all of New Yorkers.”
And the more powerful reason to have the trial in Manhattan:
Kevin McCullough, in Ed Morrissey’s podcast, just now, points out that once the case gets started in two and a half years from now, all anyone will discuss will be GW Bush’s policies, not Obama’s.
Of course, that assumes that we are not attacked by then.