By Jedediah Bila, Author and Political Commentator
Reports that New York City has become an increasingly unpopular and unlikely location for the trial of terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts have caused many New Yorkers and Americans at large to breathe a sigh of relief. However, it’s no time to sit back, relax, and divert your gaze. The New York Daily News reported on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 that “Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler shot down news reports that the trial in lower Manhattan’s federal courthouse of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has been scrapped.” According to Grindler, “We haven’t made a final decision and it’s not off the table.”
The bigger picture of ensuring that terrorists are tried in a military tribunal and not a civilian court has gained bipartisan support. Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) have joined the crusade to cut off funding for civilian terrorist trials, leaving many Americans with a newfound appreciation for bipartisan collaboration and a hope that President Obama is paying close attention. With a proposed fiscal 2011 budget of $3.8 trillion that includes his health care plan, $237 million to purchase an Illinois prison for suspected terrorists currently housed at Guantanamo Bay, and $100 billion for a second stimulus bill, I have my doubts.
I will not digress at length about the absurdity of such past statements as “I don’t think it will be offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him” by Obama or “He will be brought to justice and he’s likely to be executed for the heinous crimes that he committed” by perpetual linguistic klutz, Robert Gibbs. (I’m no constitutional law lecturer—ahem—but doesn’t disclosing the outcome of a trial ahead of time sort of defeat the purpose of the trial?) The more important question for those gentlemen is why they—or anyone for that matter—believe that terrorists are worthy of American constitutional rights.
While I fully support the push to move the KSM trial out of New York City, transferring it to a civilian court in another great American city is not the answer. Disclosing specifics regarding our interrogation techniques to our enemies, incurring enormous security costs, mirandizing those who aim to destroy us, and threatening the homes, communities, and businesses of Americans shouldn’t be part of this process.
Our heroic men and women in uniform risk their lives every day to defeat the evils of terrorism. We owe it to them, to ourselves, and to our country to not treat the enemies they capture like common American criminals.