This has “terrible mistake” written all over it. The AP is reporting the news:
Self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be sent to New York to face trial in a civilian federal court, an Obama administration official said Friday.
The official said Attorney General Eric Holder plans to announce the decision later in the morning.
The official is not authorized to discuss the decision before the announcement, so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Bringing such notorious suspects to U.S. soil to face trial is a key step in President Barack Obama’s plan to close the terror suspect detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama initially planned to close the detention center by Jan. 22, but the administration is no longer expected to meet that deadline.
It is also a major legal and political test of Obama’s overall approach to terrorism. If the case suffers legal setbacks, the administration will face second-guessing from those who never wanted it in a civilian courtroom. And if lawmakers get upset about notorious terrorists being brought to their home regions, they may fight back against other parts of Obama’s agenda.
The New York case may also force the court system to confront a host of difficult legal issues surrounding counter-terrorism programs begun after the 2001 attacks, including the harsh interrogation techniques once used on some of the suspects while in CIA custody. The most severe method – waterboarding, or simulated drowning – was used on Mohammed 183 times in 2003, before the practice was banned.
Holder will also announce that a major suspect in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, will face justice before a military commission, as will a handful of other detainees to be identified at the same announcement, the official said.
My first question is why is KSM being tried in a civilian court while Abd al-Rahim an Nashiri is facing a military commission? I don’t know enough about civilian versus military trials regarding these two men to offer any intelligent analysis, so I am waiting for Andy McCarthy to weigh in. As I’m sure many of you know, Andy McCarthy successfully prosecuted Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others for the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. I’d like to hear if Andy thinks, as I do, that this a terrible idea to try KSM this way because it would put at risk so many national security secrets regarding how KSM was captured.