Friday, March 5, 2010

9/11 trial flip-flop

I woke up this morning to a dark, moustached, sunken-eyed character, with large glasses and a white covering on his head. Luckily, it was just a CNN update on my phone and not really Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in my apartment.
Apparently, there is some stipulation as to how he will be tried. Obama had said that he wanted Mohammed to be tried in NYC, as a symbol of U.S. rule of law. New York officials say that's bullshit and don't want the trial to take place there. NYPD estimate that the trial would cost upwards of $200 million per year and would in all likelihood last more than one year. They said they would need to install at least 2,000 checkpoints in lower Manhattan. Now, if you've ever been to lower Manhattan, it's hard enough to get into a cab down there, much less pass through hundreds of checkpoints.
Many Republicans also complained at the idea of trying Mohammed in a civil court.
Progressives, on the other hand, cringed at the idea of overturning the decision for Mohammed to be tried in a civil court. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union said "If the president flip-flops and retreats to the Bush military commissions, he will betray his campaign promise to restore the rule of law, demonstrate that his principles are up for grabs and lose all credibility with Americans who care about justice and the rule of law." Ouch.
Joe Lieberman, everyone's favorite independent said that trying Mohammed as if he were just a common criminal is "justice according to 'Alice in Wonderland.'" I wonder if he's seen it already...

Mohammed is no mad hatter though and speculation abounds as to how he should be dealt with. I have to go with civil court on this one. I can, however, see both sides. I don't want the American people to have to pay to try someone who killed their friends and families. Unfortunately, we'd have to pay for the military tribunal as well. It's simply a matter of proceedings. A civil trial awards him the same rights as an American citizen. In a military tribunal, however, there's a lot more leeway on how things are handled. Bush and his cronies supported the idea of a military tribunal in dealing with the 9/11 attackers. It's not just because of Bush that I think a civil trial is better. The U.S. is in a state of disarray at the moment. Our economy and infrastructure is fucked beyond description. We are not a city upon a hill, but we can try and climb from the trenches occasionally and stand by our own principles. If we start to decide who is worthy of what kind of a trial, whose to say that one day you or I won't be put before a military tribunal instead of a civil court? Mohammed is not an American citizen, but he is in American custody. He committed crimes on American soil. It's not like they're gonna give him 5 years with probation. He will mostly likely die. In both cases, he would be sentenced to death. In both cases, we have to pay out of pocket for it. Such is the way of things. So, why not avoid hypocrisy and another shove toward martial law and go the civil route? In my mind, if you put Mohammed before a military tribunal, you gotta put Bush and Cheney up there too. For, in my mind, they've done just as much, if not more to harm the people of this nation.

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