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Regardless Of What Happens At Trial, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Will Never Go Free

The American Prospect’s Andy Serwer explains why:

Look, Khalid Sheik Mohammed has confessed — I have little doubt that he’ll be convicted. The Obama administration wouldn’t be bringing him to trial in civilian court if they thought there was a chance of his being let go. The same legal rationale that could have been used to hold him indefinitely will be used to hold him in case of an acquittal. As I reported a few months ago, because the U.S.has declared war against Al Qaeda — and KSM is quite obviously a member of Al Qaeda — they can claim legal authority to detain him even post-acquittal, until the end of hostilities, under the authority granted by the Authorization to Use Military Force. The Bush administration considered doing this briefly with Osama bin Laden’s limo driver, Salim Hamdan; but because it makes a mockery of the American system of justice, they decided against it. But the options don’t actually end there.

“They have three sources of authority that would allow him to detain [KSM], one of which is the AUMF, because it directly cites the 9/11 attacks in its language — the people who planned the 9/11 attacks are combatants, and are detainable under the AUMF,” explains Ken Gude, a human rights expert at the Center for American Progress. “Under the .000001 chance that they are acquitted, they will have that authority to detain them.”

The Attorney General could detain him as an “international terrorist” indefinitely, in renewable six month periods, based on a provision in the PATRIOT Act. And if things really get desperate, they could detain him as someone who is in the United States illegally, pending deportation. Since no country is going to take a mass murdering terrorist, that detention will essentially be indefinite.

On the prospect of KSM being released, Gude shrugs, “It isn’t even in the realm of possibility.”

So my question is this — Given these facts, doesn’t that mean that any criminal trial of KSM is, at it’s base, a sham ?

And if that’s the case, why are we wasting time and credibility on it ?

5 Responses to “Regardless Of What Happens At Trial, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Will Never Go Free”

  1. [...] will hamstring the prosecution.  Given that we have other, legally sanctioned options, having a civilian show trial strikes me as [...]

  2. Let's Be Free says:

    For what can happen in a Federal criminal trial, think Bobby Seale, Julius Hoffman and William Kunstler. Or John Hinckley.

    The criminal justice system is not well-suited to high-profile, highly politicized trials.

    In the hands of skillful lawyers (Hinckley was represented by attorneys in Edward Bennett William’s firm) the system can produce some pretty surprising and disappointing results.

    Given the history of the 9/11 defendants capture and questioning, the exclusionary rule and its legion interpretations will handcuff the prosecutors.

    Reasons that have been cited for bringing this trial to New York are reasons that are more normally cited as a basis for a change in venue outside of the jurisdiction where the crime was committed.

    Clearly, there are no good strategic or tactical legal reasons for bringing this prosecution before a District Court in the Southern District of New York.

    Obama is doing this to make a purely political point, which is essentially, hey world, we are soft on terrorism. We treat it no differently than a garden variety crime. And they say, this guy is smart?

  3. If we have a strong case, there is no reason to hold back on the trial. Holding one, proving the case, getting a guilty verdict — this makes our holding of KSM legitimate and proper under the rule of law. If America stands for nothing else, it should stand for the rule of law.

    What, exactly, is KSM going to say that we’re so afraid of? Is he going to say he was tortured while he was at Gitmo? We know that already. Is he going to confess to planning 9/11? He’s already confessed, and did so before he was tortured. Is he going to deny planning 9/11? What juror would believe him?

    The government should not be afraid of the trial, and neither should the public. If law and justice exist, they are on our side.

  4. [...] have Holder’s retort.   But if the defendants have zero chance of being released, this is a show trial and a sham.   That’s frankly much worse than the status quo, much less a military [...]

  5. [...] they end up though, the fact that we already know that KSM will never go free regardless of what happens in court makes it clear that any such trial would be a sham and a mockery of [...]

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