Dec 042009
Authors: Kevin Hollinshead and Josh Phillips

Holder’s decision an overdue return to real justice

By Kevin Hollinshead

Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, along with four other suspected terrorists, in Manhattan’s federal court, is the right one.

Critics of this decision have held, among other things, that Mohammed is an enemy combatant that should not be tried in civilian court, and that this decision makes us look weak on terrorism.

What distinguishes Mohammed from an enemy combatant is circumstance. The bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 justified a military tribunal because the perpetrators were targeting a military vessel. Though it was no less appalling, 9/11 was an attack on civilians, not military personnel. He is no more of an alleged enemy combatant than Timothy McVeigh.

Publicly trying Mohammed in New York just blocks from Ground Zero is entirely fitting. Our federal courts have handled previous high-profile terrorism trials without comprising national security or the rule of law (one example being the fair trial, conviction and imprisonment of Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber).

Finally, this decision demonstrates toughness on terror, not weakness. By trying Mohammed in New York, the United States is moving past the lazy, cowardly tactic of dumping suspected terrorists into Guantanamo Bay indefinitely.

The decision also shows the world that America is still a nation that respects due process and the rule of law. It’s in our country’s best interest to show that we value these principles, even when it’s hardest to do so. We’re supposed to be better than these terrorists, right?

This decision is a victory for the rule of law and an overdue departure from former President Bush’s cowardly detention policies. If he and his administration had shown more faith in our legal system, the alleged mass murderer may have faced justice much earlier.

Military trial necessary to ensure justice

By Josh Phillips

The decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged cohorts in New York is not in the best interest of United States or its citizens. U.S. international law is clear about how and when suspected terrorists should be tried, and it never involves civilian courts.

It is clear that the current administration is attempting to use this decision to prove that they are serious about closing down Guantanamo Bay, and that they are striving for some sort of civil liberties breakthrough.

Their focus on humanitarian issues minimizes the real issue here. The man allegedly conspired to kill nearly 3,000 civilians, which is a fundamental violation of the laws and rules of war that were established long before the United States existed. The U.S. government may have broken these rules in the past, but that does not mean we should abandon them.

As a current detainee, Khalid deserves due process, but he is subject to the full extent of military prosecution since he is an unlawful combatant. He is considered this because he purportedly fought out of uniform, belongs to no transparent chain-of-command and deliberately attacked civilians.

The decision to move Khalid to New York causes us to look weak and unwilling to do what it takes to remove terrorism, regardless of what form it takes. We are too concerned with our image abroad and the sentiment of those who would willingly behead our friends and family to seriously consider the implications of giving suspected terrorists an inch.

Some may say that the issue lies in the possibility of security threats. I say that the issue lies in our fundamental disability to do what it takes to bring murderers to justice.

 Posted by at 7:29 am

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