Monday, December 14, 2009

Terrorists on Trial

by Diane Dimond

So, the so-called 9/11 Gang of Five will go on trial in a federal court as opposed to before a military commission. The bottom line question then has to be: Are you ready for the possibility that Khalid Sheik Mohammed or any of his fellow collaborators might walk free on a sly defense attorney’s manipulation of our system?
Don’t think it couldn’t happen?
Millionaire Robert Durst walked free even after he admitted to killing a neighbor and cutting up his body. In my opinion O.J. Simpson got a free pass too after taking the lives of his ex-wife, Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. I could cite other cases in which juries, again in my opinion, did not come to the right conclusion. Take it from me it happens.
As you sit reading this column there are American lawyers preparing and strategizing how to secure the freedom of Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abd Al-Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmad Al-Hawsawi, and Waleed Bin Attash. This, after Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) has repeatedly proclaimed he was the mastermind who planned the attacks onAmerica that claimed nearly 3000 lives that horrible day in September 2001. KSM gleefully brags about hating and murdering Americans. His followers, some of whom will be in court with him, do the same. This is what they live for – to kill us – and to go down in history as martyrs.
Let me be perfectly clear about why I think these trials should have been conducted in a military court: September 11, 2001 was not the beginning of some temporary crime wave. What happened at the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon and over the skies of Pennsylvania wasn’t just a criminal act – it was an act of war. Don’t be fooled just because these terrorists don’t wear proper military uniforms. These men, who will go on trial in New York soon, aren’t mere criminals. They are enemy combatants and should be treated as the soldiers they are.
Being brought before a civilian court these men will be afforded all the rights and privileges they excoriate America for. The fact that ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ (read that: water boarding) was used on some of them as our agents tried to extract vital information will be used as a reason to try to toss out crucial evidence. Their long detention in secret locations and then at Guantanamo Bay will surely be highlighted as their defense attorneys try to play the “poor-them” card. And it goes without saying these defendants will try to use our open justice system as a platform to spew their warped sense of how the world should be. Even with the most diligent judge at the helm there will most likely be anti-American outbursts in the courtroom. Their free-of-charge American lawyers, will stage-manage the system toward mistrial by demanding classified information be released to “prove their case.”
America will bend over backward and spend multiple millions of dollars to demonstrate we can stage a secure and fair trial for even our most vilified enemies. We’ll hire the accused the best available lawyers and some believe this will show the rest of the world we are virtuous people. But guess what? The radical Muslim world will still call us “The Great Satan” and worse.
I have to wonder how any American defense attorney could feel comfortable taking such a case so I called my friend Mickey Sherman who wrote a book entitled, “How Can You Defend Those People?” As a defense lawyer Sherman firmly believes every human being deserves good representation in court no matter what they’ve done. But even he admitted to me he would never agree to go to court with these terror loving jihadists. He called the Gang of Five “the defendants we love to hate.” Sherman believes any lawyer that takes one of the terrorist cases will be vilified and do permanent damage to both their professional and personal life.
Defense Attorney Ron Kuby, never a man to shy away from representing controversial figures (he practiced with the late William Kuntsler), calls the whole trial process into question. “KSM has been standing before a military commission admitting he did it, saying he wants the government to kill him. The government wants to kill him. The mockery comes,” according to Kuby (photo left), “because the military commission didn’t accept the guilty plea in the first place…the trial becomes a long form of assisted suicide.”
In the end the defendants will likely be glad to admit in civilian court what they did and say they are ready to die. The question then becomes what does the court do? Does it give the terrorists what they want most in life – death? Or are they sentenced to what I see as their worst nightmare – life – in an American maximum security prison?
I say give them life.


A work in progress said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A work in progress said...

I agree with you that it should be tried in a military court and that it was an act of war no matter what they were wearing.

I don't agree with you that our courts are open. Yes, cases which appeal to the media are observed and monitored. How many court reporters are monitoring our courts every day? I see the court system as elitist and closed for the most part, even if reporters have access, even if some courts are on camera. Sangamon County, Illinois doesn't record family court proceedings, nor do they have court reporters. So, there is no actual court record for appeal or to refer to for any report of judicial misconduct.

I'd like to see more reporters covering courts on a daily basis, the courts where ordinary Americans seek justice. Obama talks about transparency and the courts are ripe for it.

Meanwhile scumbag terrorists get attention and probably more access to real justice than a lot of other Americans get.

The prosecutors in the OJ trial had how many weeks to convince the jury? How much time and money was spent? Meanwhile there are court OP/CPO mills out there for some prosecutors to divert domestic abuse cases they don't want to bother with, for whatever reason, and men get away with beating their wives and partners, simply BECAUSE they are their wives and partners. Terrorists will receive more attention and access to American justice we supposedly cherish than many a battered woman in this country,and they don't deserve it. But the whole world is watching so we will give them a show, I guess, of what we supposedly aspire to when we don't provide that much justice for the regular, average American, most of whom don't have a budget that allows for real justice.