If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks had been tried in U.S. civilian courts in 2009, as the Obama administration desired, they would likely have been found guilty, if the evidence is as strong as the government says it is.
Their trials would have been in open court in Manhattan and the trials would be seen to be fair.
But Congress, through a mixture of timidity, lack of confidence in a criminal justice system that is the envy of the world and a thinly concealed desire to see the defendants railroaded, blocked bringing the defendants to the U.S. mainland.
Congress ordered that Americas great continuing legal black eye and embarrassment – the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba – be kept open and the defendants tried there. The remoteness and the extreme security of that venue guarantee that the five will virtually be tried in secret.
According to the Justice Department, U.S. civilian courts have tried 195 cases of terrorism since 2001, 91 percent of them resulting in convictions. The judges and prosecutors of the Manhattan criminal court where the Sept. 11 conspirators would have been tried especially have great expertise in terrorism cases. Instead, the five will be tried before an untested military tribunal.
This trial should have been over.