"I'm not scared of what (self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh
Mohammed) would say at trial," Attorney General Eric Holder told the
Senate Judiciary Committee as he defended his decision to prosecute
Mohammed and four other accused 9/11 planners in a federal criminal
I'm not scared of what KSM has to say in court either. I'm scared of
what a federal judge might say and do.
Mohammed already has said, "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation
from A to Z." By handing the 9/11 Five over to the federal court system,
the Obama administration has opened the door for other federal judges to
issue rulings that affect or delay the trial and/or punishment.
I'm scared that even a federal judge not presiding over the Trial of The
Century could muck it up. Consider California, where in February 2006,
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel blocked an execution because there was
a .0000000000001 chance that a convicted rapist/murderer facing
execution might feel pain when administered a three-drug cocktail. In so
ruling, Fogel blocked not only that killer's execution, but also any
other execution in California.
I'm scared of what Mohammed's attorneys will say to prolong this trial.
As former CIA Director George Tenet wrote in his book, "At the Center of
the Storm," when CIA officials first interrogated Mohammed in 2003, he
defiantly told them, "I'll talk to you guys after I get to New York and
see my lawyer." Now, thanks to Holder, Mohammed is about to say hello to
the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York where
undoubtedly, he'll have more than one lawyer.
I'm scared of what President Obama said to NBC's Chuck Todd last week
that those bothered with the change of venue for Mohammed won't find it
"offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is
applied to him." In pronouncing the verdict and punishment before the
trial, Obama has handed civil libertarians ammunition.
I'm scared by what Holder said in response to this question by Sen.
Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: "Can you give me a case in U.S. history where an
enemy combatant caught on a battlefield was tried in civilian court?"
Holder said he'd "have to look at that," after which Graham answered
that there is no such case.
I'm scared that, according to the New York Times, Justice Department
officials have said that even if "Mohammed is acquitted, the Obama
administration will keep him locked up forever as a 'combatant'" under
the laws of war. It's clear the Justice Department hasn't thought this
I'm scared at what the next legal Dream Team will try to get others to
say to deflect attention from the murder of 2,973 individuals. "Are we
going to allow discovery of classified information so that we can get a
fair trial?" asked John Eastman, law school dean at Chapman University
in Orange, Calif. Are we going to depose past Bush Department of Justice
and Pentagon officials?
Eastman fears a scenario in which, "It's not so much Khalid Shaikh
Mohammed who's on trial, but the Bush administration." (Eastman believes
Congress should pass a bill "to withdraw jurisdiction from the civilian
courts for enemy combatants." Good idea.)
I'm scared at what the international and self-styled human-rights
communities might say to undermine the credibility of a trial that in
any way falls short of perfection.
Today, everyone knows that KSM is guilty. But in the age of the
Internet, the guiltiest perpetrator can be modeled as a victim.
In 2001, a Scottish court found Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset
Ali al-Megrahi guilty for the 1988 Pan 103 Lockerbie bombings that left
270 dead. Al-Megrahi was convicted under a unanimous verdict passed by
three Scottish (not American) judges (not jurors) based in The
Netherlands. The (barbaric American) death penalty was off the table and
the other defendant was acquitted. The Scottish justice minister
recently issued a "compassionate" release for al-Megrahi. Still, the
likes of Noam Chomsky argue it was an unfair trial, and have called for
a U.N. inquiry.
Check out Slobodan Milosevic on the Internet. The former Serbian leader
died while on trial for torture, murder and genocide at the U.N.
International Criminal Court/Yugoslavia in The Hague. Serving as his own
attorney, Slobo managed to prolong a trial that was supposed to last 14
months for a grueling four years and then it only ended because he
died of a heart attack.
What thanks did the ICC get for accommodating Milosevic's delaying
antics? Scurrilous rumors that it was responsible for his death.
So I'm not scared about what Mohammed might say about jihad in court.
I'm scared about what he did and what a judge might say if he wants
to serve as his own attorney.