Friday, November 13, 2009

Trial of the Shaikh

Kalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others are going to be tried in a federal civilian court in New York. That’s good – I guess. Better a group of citizens sits in open court to pass judgment rather than a closed military tribunal.

He’s already bragged that he is the mastermind who pulled off the 9/11 attacks, so there may not be much question about his guilt. I assume his lawyers will argue otherwise, but really, who’s going to listen?

Come to think of it, they’ll probably also argue for a change of venue. Does anyone in his right mind think a dozen open-minded, unbiased jurors can be found almost right next door to where the World Trade Center used to be? And if the circumstances were different they’d likely get a change of venue. But in this case, the symmetry is too perfect to warrant a change.

Many around the world will say the cards are stacked against these guys. So we won’t get full credit for putting them in the gentle arms of our criminal justice system. Many here at home will say they don’t deserve to be tried by civilians. They’re wrong. That’s exactly who should try them.

In the end they’ll be convicted and put to death. Will that bring closure? No. Will any of the dead come back to life? No. Will vengeance be sweet? For a few, yes; for most, no. It’ll just mean that we now have room in our limited attention span for another story to replace this one.

Am I cynical about the process? Take a guess.


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