April 5, 2011

Change of Trial Venue for 911 Plotters: Kudos, Mr. President

Monique Chartier

From the Wall Street Journal.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday announced that he had transferred to the Defense Department for military trial the cases against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa al Hawsawi, accused of key roles in planning the Sept. 11 attacks. The decision reversed Mr. Holder’s earlier plan to try the men in civilian court in New York City, a change the attorney general blamed on politics and congressional restrictions that banned moving prisoners to the U.S. for any purpose.

Rush Limbaugh was correct yesterday to point out that this announcement came on the same day that the President announced his re-election bid. Not altogether clear, though, is what conclusion should be drawn from this coincident timing: whether the former was intended to bolster the latter by garnering some votes or the latter to provide a little cover for a decision that would almost certainly disappoint some of the president's supporters.

In any case, thank you, Mr. President, for doing the right thing and changing the venue of these trials. The fact is that these are not common criminals but enemy combatants without uniforms who facilitated an attack on the United States and the values of Western Civilization. Michael Graham:

As foreign fighters waging illegitimate war against America, they aren’t entitled to the same protections as American citizens who commit crimes.
Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Although it seems remote to us, there is a lot of history, and litigation, surrounding the use of military tribunals. The most well documented is the tribunal assembled for the 9 Nazi spies landed in the US during WWII. After Roosevelt announced that he wanted them "tried and then hung", the Supreme Court labored mightily to effect that result. The written decision is not well regarded.

As might be guessed, I am of two minds. Although the FBI claimed all credit in uncovering the spies. The concealed fact is that one of the spies, an American citizen, immediately upon landing went to the FBI and turned in all of the other spies, resulting in their capture. The FBI attempted to conceal this during his trial, J. Edgar Hoover sat in at the trial, and he received 30 years hard labor. Save one, all of the other spies were executed, shot rather than hung as Roosevelt directed.

There is this distinction, the Nazis were caught on American soil, there were Constitutional charges that could be brought against them as spies, and the courts were open. In American law, Military Tribunals can only be used in war zones, where the courts are not available. To solve this problem, the entire east coast of the US was declared a "war zone". The Supreme Court declined to address the fact that our courts were open.

To the best of my knowledge, none of the present defendants were apprehended on American soil. Still, "Military justice, is to justice; what military music is to music". Most legal scholars will agree that the Nuremberg Trials were a hoax. For reasons unclear, MacArthur protected some of the most egregious Japanese war criminals from prosecution by those tribunals. Most Americans don't even know that there were Japanese war trials (my daughter's history teacher didn't know, and I had to loan the school a video). The Australians know, and even make films about the American refusal to cooperate in the trial of "war criminals".

I fear that we are not looking at this sensibly and the choices of venue have simply become shibboleths for the Left and the Right.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 5, 2011 11:05 PM

I agree with most of what Warrington wrote... it seems we are not learning from our own troubled history when it comes to military tribunals and war crimes trials.

That said, I really don't care *where* the alleged 9/11 terrorists and their allies are tried, as long as it's done in an open and fair manner. I know that won't happen either way -- so again, I really don't care where it happens.

Posted by: jparis at April 6, 2011 11:43 AM

J Paris-what "fairness"are you discussing?
It's not like they're denying they did it,which would be another issue altogether.
There's no excuse to kill innocent people.Period.
In war it can happen by accident.Having been in a war,I can't think of a good thing about war.
But I think,unfortunately,it's harwired in the human race.
Terrorism is a psychopathic condition.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 6, 2011 12:45 PM

J Paris-y'know what?I have a thought that a war against the Mexican drug cartel might not be such a bad idea.
They have terrorized an entire country with unthinkable cruelty.
If you think it's not coming here,think again-it's here already.
No legalisms-just maximum force without mercy against these monsters.
It would be a great favor to the Mexican people and secondarily to ourselves.
These guys make the Colombians look mild by comparison.
FWIW:I spent 9 years working narcotics enforcement,but I never even HEARD of stuff this bad.
The Colombians needed a reason to kill -these people(??)apparently don't.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 6, 2011 12:55 PM

Posted by jparis
"That said, I really don't care *where* the alleged 9/11 terrorists and their allies are tried, as long as it's done in an open and fair manner. I know that won't happen either way -- so again, I really don't care where it happens."

I'm mostly in accord with this. I am also open to the possibility that some defendants are falsely accused (I really haven't followed the story very much). It is also a legal principle that the confession of one accused cannot be used against another, the possibility of "making a deal" is too great. This does not mean the prosecution cannot follow "leads" contained in a confession.

Basically, I want to know the facts. Even in the face of confessions. For instance, I want to make a decision on whether Homeland Security is chasing a will of the wisp, or if their seeming intrusions are fact based.

As to throwing the book away on the drug criminals, I think we do ourselves no service. The legal system is perfectly able to deal with murder and mass murder. We were able to put an end to running liqour in the 20's, and they had half the politicians on the pad. Our difficulty in dealing with them smacks of differing political agendas.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 6, 2011 2:05 PM

Joe writes:
"I have a thought that a war against the Mexican drug cartel might not be such a bad idea.
They have terrorized an entire country with unthinkable cruelty."

I read novel recently (Clancy?, maybe) in which the U.S. begins a real war on drugs and is winning it. Of course, it turns out that the "drug czar" is stockpiling it for himslef. Ignoring that, the novel seemed fact based and addressed a number of ways in which the war could be won, if we wanted to. Sorry, I have already forgotten the title. I do recall one factoid about transporting drugs by sea. They travel at night, in the day they stop and pull blue tarps from Home Depot over the ship. From 15,000 feet, it looks like ocean.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 6, 2011 8:51 PM

The book was "Clear and Present Danger".
It was also a film with Harrison Ford and Willem Dafoe.
Hey,guess what?
When the Medellin cartel was going crazy and killing judges by the dozen and cops by the hundreds(still small time compared to the Mexicans)we acted kind of decisively.
Carlos Lehder-Rivas was extradited and jaiked for life.Gaviria and Escobar were whacked,plain and simple.
The Cali cartel took over.They use violence relatively infrequently,AFAIK they still run the Colombian drug trade.
The Mexican cartels ramped up this violence for reasons unknown.
They're threatening to unleash it here.
Thanks to the open borders idiots like "our"Governor trying to play nice with whoever decides to sneak into the country,they have lots of operators in place.
There are still people on this board who are too shortsighted to get it.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 7, 2011 1:30 AM

Joe, there is a very important distinction between the drug problems with Columbia and Mexico. Mexico produces almost no drugs. Elimination of the cartels in Columbia can effect supply. In Mexico, the supply is constant and external. (I am reminded of Paraguay, their economy was based almost entirely on smuggling into Brazil) So, elimination of a cartel in Mexico does not effect supply, it only alters the identity of the middlemen. As long as profits are high, the Mexican situation can be compared to a "feeding frenzy" among sharks. Those frenzies end when the supply of food is exhausted. There never seems to be a shortage of sharks.

The book I am thinking of was not "Clear and Present Danger", it does share the thesis of turning the cartels on each other. It does make the point that "custom and usage" in the drug trade is that payment is 50% on order, 50% on delivery. So, to effect the financial situation of the cartels, it is necessary to eliminate the sale at its source. The cartel has already been paid if interception is made at our border.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 7, 2011 9:55 AM

"As foreign fighters waging illegitimate war against America, they aren't entitled to the same protections as American citizens who commit crimes."

So, could someone name "foreign fighters" engaged in "legitimate" war where we were involved? The Germans? The Japanese? The Mexicans? The Huks? Who was "legitimate" in our Civil War? For that matter, who was "legitimate" in our Revolutionary War? We are in murky waters here.

"Protections"? We claim to always be ready to defend "human rights". However, if you are an abhorrent enemy, you are no longer human. Did we not take the position that 9/11 was a "criminal act", not an "act of war"?

We are no longer on the battlefield, we must keep our focus on other matters than victory. Justice is not a bad goal. Remember George Bush, "If we cannot bring them to justice, we will bring justice to them?

I have no sympathy for the present defendants. I do have a concern that the hearings be "full and open", and that all of the facts be developed. I do have a concern that semi-secret hearings will permit the government to conceal certain facts that I might wish to know. Our legal system is well developed, if New York City presents too many dangers to the public, I do not know why a civil court cannot be convened in Guantanamo. The World Trade Center was clearly overt murder. I do not fear the defendants escaping through a "loophole" any more than I feared that Charlie Manson, or Son of Sam, would escape cnviction.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 7, 2011 10:31 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.