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Who Cares?

With the upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a few other high-ranking Al Qaeda members in New York City, I've been reading and listening to the arguments in favor of this move. And the most common one seems to be "to demonstrate that our system of justice is as great as we say it is."

To which I give the carefully considered, carefully measured, scholarly response:

Who gives a shit?

Let's take this bit by bit.

"It's important that the rest of the world see that our justice system works."

No, it's not. Whether or not KSM and the rest get their day in federal, civilian court will not change one single opinion about the United States. Those who already like us will not suddenly turn on us for denying them that, and those that dislike us will not suddenly be overwhelmed with awe and respect and admiration if we do.

"It's important that all Americans see that all are equal before our justice system."

No, it's not. Most Americans have their opinions about our justice system pretty well established. And very, very few of them will have it swayed one way or another based on how these admitted terrorists and mass murderers are treated. For example, in my case, I have a strong, abiding, underlying faith in the system to -- eventually -- get things right. My contempt for it will be strengthened by this farce of a trial (the president has already pronounced them guilty and said, regardless of verdict, they will never go free) doesn't change my underlying appreciation for the system. I'm not about to blow up a courthouse or start flouting laws willy-nilly because of it.

"The courts have shown before that they can properly address the threat of terrorism."

No, they haven't. Remember the 1993 World Trade Center bombings? We caught them, tried them, convicted them, and locked them up. But they still managed to continue to conspire with their fellow Al Qaeda members outside of prison, using their legally-entitled lawyer to help them pass along communications.

Further, courts -- like cops -- are primarily reactive forces in society. They come along after things have gone to hell and then try to fix them up. Yes, they caught and locked up the World Trade Center bombers, but that did exactly dick towards preventing the completion of that goal on September 11 eight years later.

Here's my proposed solution to dealing with terrorists we catch who kill -- or conspire to kill -- Americans:

"This is what's going to happen. We're going to wring every bit of useful information out of you, then either kill you or lock you up for a very long time. Here's what you can control about the process: how and how long we do the wringing, whether or not you live or die, the degree of unpleasantness of your death, and what we do with your body after we kill you."

These are not criminals. They commit crimes, but their goals are entirely different from criminals. And our courts simply aren't equipped to deal with them.

These are not soldiers. They use military weaponry, tactics, and have vaguely military goals, but they do not abide by any established rules of warfare or conduct themselves like soldiers.

They are terrorists. They take the worst of both elements and combine them for their own purposes. And we need to treat them differently than we would criminals or enemy soldiers.

And I'd wager that very few Americans would have a problem with my proposed solution -- within reason, of course. "Within reason" being, in this case, "directly and indisputably involved with causing the deaths of thousands of Americans."


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Comments (30)

1. Capture2. Water... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

1. Capture
2. Waterboard
3. Terminate

Of course liberals will be aghast at this. Until the day that either they or one of their loved ones has a terrorist put a gun to their head.

I would suggest letting the... (Below threshold)
Sabba Hillel:

I would suggest letting them know that they will be buried in a pig skin shroud. The British found that this technique worked well during the Palestine Mandate. Start providing them with pig skin blankets or start a rumor that they were fed pork.

I went to a war.. not many ... (Below threshold)
Ran:

I went to a war.. not many rules in war..cept to survive.

The ironic thing is that th... (Below threshold)
Staylor:

The ironic thing is that this trial completely undermines the left's own argument that these guys needed to be acted upon in accordance with the rules for uniformed soldiers in the Geneva Convention. The convention states that legitimate, uniformed soldiers cannot be tried in the civilian courts systems. Nice to see that Obama is anknowledging what the right has been saying for years; terrorists are not uniformed combatants and shouldn't be treated as such. Now if can get through his head that nonuniformed combatants get exactly no protection under international or constitutional law; but that probably won't happen.
This farce of a trial is both an attempt to score politcal points (gonna backfire by the way)and a way to confirm Barrack Obama's image of his own wonderfullness.

What's important is that th... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

What's important is that these self-confessed murderers are executed. I don't care much about sending a message to the rest of the world about how newly magnanimous and egalitarian we are. And I don't give a damn about how Obama is perceived in Europe.

There's a message to be sent, and it's this: kill Americans, and we'll kill you back without weeping and wringing our hands about it.

Rule of law is for pansies,... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Rule of law is for pansies, eh Jay?

These are not criminals. They commit crimes, but their goals are entirely different from criminals. And our courts simply aren't equipped to deal with them.

Their goals are different, so they should be treated differently? So motive should determine the venue (and process, apparently)? Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the justification for hate crime statutes, doesn't it? What's your position on those, Jay?

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, so I guess total inconsistency is the hobgoblin of muddled, shallow ones.

I love when the left holds ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I love when the left holds up the banner of "the rule of law" or "equal justice", etc. Of course, if you or I had not filed tax returns or filed blantantly incorrect returns, we would not get promoted to a cabinet seat in the US Government nor will we be a chairman of a powerful congressional committee. Yea! The left loves justice meted out fair. Pathetic creatures they are.

And we have the Bill Clinton rule of law where you can lie under oath to a grand jury because it was only about sex. Sure, the left was up in arms about the abuse of the rule of law.

The left hold no equal with their hypocritical rantings. ww

Extract all information out... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

Extract all information out of them, twist the screws to see if there is anymore info, or to verify prior revelations were correct, then kill the bastards, which is exactly what they'd do to us if given the chance.

Send em east on the 'Kon Tiki Y2KX' into the Atlantic hurricane season, with their only sustenance a few pigs, and maybe some salt.

mantis;Do try and ke... (Below threshold)
Staylor:

mantis;
Do try and keep up. Rule of law is great (though hearing a supporter of the big O imply so is incredibly ironic) but these terrorists do not in anyway fall under the rule of law, they are non-uniformed foreign combatants who seek to achieve political goals through violence. They have no protection under any sort of law; and even if they did the Obama administration as aplying it in a completely inconsistant way. If they fall under the Geneva Convention then they can't be tried in a civilian court. If they fall under the US Consitution then they are already free under several serparate technicalities, though Holder has already said that they will not be allowed free no matter the outcome of the trial, yeah that's the Rule of Law for you.
Even ignoring these inconsistencies (does that mean Obama has a small and muddled mind?) only a select few are being sent to civilian courts, the rest will face a military tribunal, yet another inconsistantcy. Besides when KSM's compatriots are encountered they are fought with elements of the US military, special forces, air strikes and with assitance from foreign militaries; hardly the normal reaction to mere 'criminal' behavior. That kind of explodes the idea that these are your run of the mill criminals doesn't it?

Of course there's about a 5... (Below threshold)
John S:

Of course there's about a 50-50 chance that the terrorists will be freed on a stupid technicality. I can only guess whether some Carter appointed judge will get this case. That will definitely end the Obama presidency.

"These are not criminals. T... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"These are not criminals. They commit crimes, but their goals are entirely different from criminals. And our courts simply aren't equipped to deal with them."-jay tea

American jurisprudence has been dealing with this sort of thing for the past 130 years, at least.

Perhaps special direct action beckons anyway?

See you in the funny papers! Or not.

Oh, BryanD, nice to know yo... (Below threshold)

Oh, BryanD, nice to know you can always be counted on to utterly miss the point.

Did you notice that right after the section you quoted, I spelled out exactly how the US justice system had failed to handle the first WTC attack properly? Or did you simply see some words that made your brain freeze up, and you raced down to make your pointless comment?

My money's on #2.

J.

Their goals are di... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:
Their goals are different, so they should be treated differently? So motive should determine the venue (and process, apparently)?
Jay's position is fairly close to that of some dudes named Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams, who wrote into our Constitution that habeas corpus is subject to suspension under certain circumstances. Goals and motive are very important to process, apparently. Just ask Abraham Lincoln.

The very thought that foreign invaders (or those who direct them) should be entitled to the same rights of American citizens accused of crime is absurd.

the degree of unpl... (Below threshold)
Tina S:
the degree of unpleasantness of your death, and what we do with your body after we kill you.

Jay Tea,

Are saying that America should torture its enemies to death and than mutilate the body afterwards? If so, than your vision of America is drastically different from what our founding fathers envisioned.

Tina S., another lost pathe... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Tina S., another lost pathetic liberal that misses the point of the post. Harp away, your guy is tanking. ww

Anohter republican/wizba... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Anohter republican/wizbang double sandard

The Bush administration used civilian courts to put away dozens of terrorists, including "shoe bomber" Richard Reid; al-Qaeda agent Jose Padilla; "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh; the Lackawanna Six; and Zacarias Moussaoui, who was prosecuted for the same conspiracy for which Mohammed is likely to be charged.

Many of these terrorists are locked in a supermax prison in Colorado, never to be seen again.

Why do yo think it is that we didn't hear any concerns from republicans about using federal courts and prisons for terrorist when Bush was president?

JT, you are to much to kind... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

JT, you are to much to kind and compassionate.
Use their own torture tactics on them.

Tina, I for one was NOT hap... (Below threshold)

Tina, I for one was NOT happy at the way Lindh and Padilla were treated. And I recall that the Bush administration didn't exactly ask for what eventually happened: Padilla was originally declared an unlawful combatant, and Lindh was accused of treason.

But as for your point about the bodies of terrorists... "here's the deal, Khalid old chum: cooperate, and we'll give your body back to your next of kin. Give us crap, we'll wrap it in pigskin, burn it, and scatter your ashes where nobody will ever find 'em."

Why not use someone's superstitions against them?

J.

Hey Tina!All of th... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [reitred]:

Hey Tina!

All of the above were either American Citizens and thus fall under constitutional protections; or Mirandized and Arrested with due process. No technicalities to get them off after they grandstand and spout off.

This case will be precedent setting for absolutely no reason. And these men will be acquited of "civil crimes" due to technicalities and sent back to military prison, where they will probably face a tribunal anyway.

Why do yo[u} think... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:
Why do yo[u} think it is that we didn't hear any concerns from republicans about using federal courts and prisons for terrorist when Bush was president?

Did Bush suspend habeas corpus?

If only the left would trea... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

If only the left would treat terrorists like they treat unborn babies when they arent wanted.

If only the left would fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban like they fight conservatives.

Hey Tina, I'm sure you're h... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Hey Tina, I'm sure you're happy as hell that there are already people like yourself looking for a "pardon" for Lind. Maybe you can pass the hat over at DK and get some blood money to pass to Eric Holder. I hear he's real good at getting pardons from presidents.

From the Oval Office... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [reitred]:


From the Oval Office: December 2012

After negotiating with the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden I have seen the error of my ways. I hope the rest of the country will join with me this evening in converting to Islam to achieve peace in our time.

Please repeat after me... "There is only one God and Barack Obama is his Prophet."

That's right. I have just been notified that I am the Messiah prophecied in the Holy Qoran. Each of you will be required to report to the nearest hospital to have your chip implanted after repeating the phrase"There is only one God and Barack Obama is his Prophet."

That is all that is needed to proclaim your love and belief in Allah and in me, and to be converted to Islam. This chip, in addition to holding all of your Medical Records, will also contain your financial information. Now in order to buy or sell anything you need but wave your hand or your forehead over the scanner.

In addition to proclaiming myself the True Messiah I am hereby taking over as the focal point of every Church in America. There will be only one religion and we WILL all get along. I am appointing Rahm Emmanuel to the post of Pontif of the One World Religion.

Soon we will begin the rebuilding of the Temple in Jeruselem. Recently it was discovered that the actual temple was located a few miles away and not at the site where the Dome of the Rock currently stands. Thus we can bring peace to Israel at last.

I know you are all happy to oblige, and I look forward to answering your prayers. Good night America.

*puts on tinfoil hat*

Duh... almost forgot ... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [reitred]:

Duh... almost forgot

*continued*

In light of my new religion, I hereby offer pardon to all of my fellows who have been imprisoned in this Jihad.

I don't care about the terr... (Below threshold)
Timmer:

I don't care about the terrorists. I don't care about what the rest of the world thinks of us. I do care about who or what we're becoming as a nation. I'm all for summary executions when a terrorist is caught on the battlefield. I'm against all the "it's not really torture" crap. It's un-American and it lessens who we are. We're not the guys who torture or "coerce." The bad guys do that crap, not us. I maintain that we're better than that.

I have long believed the pr... (Below threshold)
Matt:

I have long believed the proper way to conduct a war on Terrorists, is to fly the black flag. No prisoners, no quarter, kill them where you find them. Basically they would be treated the way they've treated their victims and soldiers they've captured. I would allow them to be interrogated until of no further use then killed. Pirates captured in the act on the open sease should be hung from the yard-arm (I am sure a defense contractor can make us something nifty along those lines). Their villages and ports that provide support and sustenance should be razed.

We should apply the Geneva ... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

We should apply the Geneva Conventions to these guys ... the Convention is very clear about what to do with these folks ... summary execution ... Yep, right in the Geneva Conventions it spells out what to do with terrorists ...
kind of like a modern version of the old Pirate justice system ...
that ended piracy back in the day ...

So Jay, you think that beca... (Below threshold)
mantis:

So Jay, you think that because Lynne Stewart broke the law we should through out eight centuries of legal tradition, not to mention the Constitution of the United States of America?

You're the type of person Franklin warned us against when he described the government provided by the Constitution as "a republic, if you can keep it."

mantis, Lynne Stewart was t... (Below threshold)

mantis, Lynne Stewart was tried, convicted, and sentenced under existing law, and I have no problems with that. I wish she'd been charged with treason, as it seems pretty damned clear to me that her actions fit, but... feh.

It was the circumstances that led up to her crime that I'm concerned about. The people who suborned her (not that it took much) also carried on their terrorist activities despite being tried, convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned by civilian courts.

J.

The people who suborned ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The people who suborned her (not that it took much) also carried on their terrorist activities despite being tried, convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned by civilian courts.

So does organized crime, but we haven't decided to do away with courts because of that.

Principles are important. We shouldn't throw ours out just because there are bad people in the world.




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