Civil trial: Intended or unintended consequences?
An understanding of the Federal Rules of Evidence suggests the decision by the first, post-American President and his Attorney General to try “confessed” 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), and four of his fellow Islamic jihadists in Federal District Court in New York City may have a lot more behind it than is readily apparent.
Furthermore, logic suggests the decision could have four objectives: Cause former president George W. Bush to be tried for war crimes; provide an excuse for the current President to pull our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq; cause the collapse of the American intelligence community; and force the courts to dismiss the charges against KSM and his fellow Islamic jihadists. There is no other way to explain their actions except to wonder if the President and his Attorney General ever attended law school, much less Harvard and Columbia?
First objective: Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress that most people killed on 9/11 were civilians, not military. Ergo: their trials belong in civil, not military, courts. How odd. Isn’t the Pentagon a military installation?
Moreover, if what KSM and friends did were “crimes,” not acts of war against America, then the invasion of two sovereign countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, in pursuit of them and their masters were illegal acts that should have resulted in the impeachment of former President Bush; however, since impeachment is no longer possible, a war-crimes tribunal against former President Bush should ensue. Also, KSM’s “confession” was tortured.
Second objective: If the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors,” then there is no rationale for the continued presence of our troops in those countries. Immediately, we must apologize, and withdrawn our troops.
Third objective: Under the Federal Rules of Discovery, the federal prosecutors will be compelled to turn over every piece of evidence collected by our intelligence agencies concerning these defendants. Such evidence must then be examined by the court, using the 4th Amendment’s guarantees against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” That examination will require U.S. intelligence agencies to reveal the sources and methods used to obtain the evidence. Moreover, the evidence cannot be based on “hearsay,” forcing our covert agents to testify in public. If that happens, allied intelligence agencies would be foolish to share information with us.
Fourth objective: When the post-American President predicted on NBC-TV on November 19, 2009, that KSM and his colleagues will be convicted and executed, he prejudiced the entire national jury pool. How can KSM and friends get a fair trial when the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer pronounced them guilty and even decreed their death sentence? Even if convicted in a federal district court, on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court would have to vote to turn the defendants loose.
Defense lawyers will have two motions spring-loaded to put before the court: A Motion to Dismiss based on Extreme Prejudice by the officer at the head of our justice system, and a motion for a Change of Venue.
The jury pool in all five boroughs of New York is tainted by publicity like no other jury pool in history. How can KSM and friends receive a fair trial in the city in which they master-minded such horrible and well-publicized “crimes?”
If Change of Venue is granted, the only place where KSM and friends could have a “jury of their peers” would be in the Peoples’ Republik of Boulder, Colorado. Fired Colorado University professor, Ward Churchill, could be a juror deciding if KSM and friends were justified or not in the killing of “those little Nazis” in the World Trade Center.
Seriously, what other explanations can there be for the decision to try KSM and his fellow jihadists in a federal district court rather than treat them as enemy combatants who should be tried before military tribunals? Surely, lawyers trained at Harvard and Columbia cannot be that stupid.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, studied at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Dr. Hamilton is a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2009. William Hamilton.