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A Scandal by Any Other Name


We are coming up on the tenth anniversary of the most grotesque terrorist attack in our history.  We know the bunch who did it.  To his credit, President Obama approved the operation that eradicated one of them, Osama bin Laden, and likewise to his credit, did so without a lick of due process.  We are, after all, in a war.

We have custody of the principal operational mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  We have had him for eight years, since 2003.  President Bush belatedly put him before a military commission.  A little less than three years ago, KSM and some of his cohorts pleaded guilty.  He wanted to become a "martyr."

The commission foolishly put off the plea in order to conduct a mental competency hearing, notwithstanding that there was not the ghost of a reason to suspect that KSM had any mental issues at all, other than being a bloodthirsty, America-hating jihadist.

In the ensuing delay, Eric Holder saw his chance. 

In November 2009, Mr. Holder quashed the military commission and announced that KSM would be tried in a U.S. district court in New York City.  We were going to show the world that we are oooozing with due process, dontcha know.  (Mr. Holder and the Administration for which he works are apparently unaware that our friends and particularly our adversaries are less interested in how much due process we can trot out than in whether we have the power and will to defeat our enemies).

But Mr. Holder's Due Process Extravaganza got derailed when another extravaganza took over, that being massive foot stomping by the Democratic politicians who almost exclusively run the show in NYC and the Empire State.  They threw a wet blanket over it.  The Congress (at that point, a fully Democratic Congress) also refused to fund a civilian trial.  Maybe Mr. Holder should have asked first.

About five months ago, the Attorney General announced that KSM would be tried before a military commission after all.

Four days ago, we now learn, the Defense Department sent form letters to the families of the 9/11 victims saying that, well, there was still no trial date, but not to worry, "we will continue to provide updates."

Now that's heartening.  If you can't get a trial date, at least you can get an update.

Ten years after this atrocity, and eight years after capturing the main perpetrator, our country, day after day and month after month, turns itself into a pretzel getting all the procedures ironed out, while the only decent outcome goes begging.  This is not a testament to our determination to be fair.  It's a testament to our obsession with process, dismissal of victims, and indifference to substantive justice.  

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