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Military Tribunals After All?

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The lead paragraphs from a Washington Post story reveal a possible major development in the coming terror trial of 9-11 planner Khalid Sheik Mohammed:

President Obama's advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

The president's advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. While Obama has favored trying some alleged terrorists in civilian courts as a symbol of U.S. commitment to the rule of law, critics have said military tribunals are the appropriate venue for those accused of attacking the United States.

The notion that "the rule of law" cannot prevail in military tribunals is at best ahistorical and at worst absurd and insulting to the armed forces.  Such tribunals (with significantly fewer defendant protections than exist today) were good enough for Franklin Roosevelt when he ordered captured Nazi saboteurs put before them in 1942.  And the Nuremberg trials were themselves military tribunals.

It's unfortunate and worrisome that it has taken the administration this long to figure out that KSM is an enemy combatant, not the next fellow on the police blotter  --  if indeed they've figured it out.  Still, as they say, better late...

 

1 Comment

If Obama foolishly deferred to Holder in the original decision to prosecute KSM in the criminal courts in New York City, how much confidence can he have in Holder going forward?

I would think Holder is on a very short rope.

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