President Obama and Attorney General Holder want to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM, to war on terror watchers) in New York. Is there any possible way this is a good thing?

  1. Right away, what happens if he is acquitted? Well, you have two choices: Let him go free so that he either goes on to become a hero in the radical terrorist haven of your choice, where he’ll likely go back to masterminding things (though their is a small chance he’s killed by his fellow terrorists if its determined he gave away too much information). Or you don’t let him go free and essentially hold him some place much like Guantanamo Bay (though not actually at Guantanamo Bay as Obama will have probably closed it by then). If he does the latter, then its the worst possible outcome. Talk up carrying out justice and then basically act like there was never a fair trial all along. Granted, its sort how things work in Chicago, but that won’t work too well in the court of international opinion which Obama cares more about than what we think down south.
  2. OK, so you get a hung jury? I don’t see how this is good either for all the same reasons as above, only its dragged out more.
  3. He’s found guilty. OK, fine. Where you going to put him? You going to execute him and turn him into a martyr, which I thought was always a bad thing in liberal minds? Or put him in an existing maximum security prison to a) poison other peoples minds and b) turn that prison into a REALLY maximum security prison. Got to say there would be a sort of demented irony if Blackwater needed to be hired to secure the place. So, then what about the next terrorist incident? Are you really going to go at like Gil Grissom on CSI?
  4. What happens if evidence is required from national security sources? They going to have to give up the goose? Or not, it makes the likelihood of option #1 more likely, no?
  5. And what about the whole “torture” argument? Will any thing he said be admissible? And won’t the tactics of the people who extracted the information from him also be put on trial? Does anyone doubt that you’d probably end making an Oliver North out of one of the interrogators? Is that really what the anti-torture people want? Because, here’s the dirty little secret. Most people don’t want a formal torture policy. They are against the “legalization” of it. But, they also sleep better at night hoping there is a Jack Bauer out there somewhere who’ll do what it takes to keep mass murderers at bay. The inevitable debate over the interrogators’ tactics will either work out the opposite of how Dem’s would hope in that it’d make the more illicit tactics of the war on terror somewhat more popular than they are. OR, the details of the interrogations are so graphic and so highly publicized that sympathy for  KSM would become the cause de jour. Neither option is good in my mind. I don’t want “torture”, even when used with scare quotes because what is referred to as torture doesn’t really rise to that level, to be something we formally except. I prefer to think that these tactics are rare and only used in extraordinary circumstances.  I don’t want us to ever “feel good” about it. And I certainly don’t want the opposite. I don’t want KSM to get sympathy because we feel ashamed of what we did. It was war. It IS war. We must fight it, knowing that tough calls must be made.

Ultimately, I don’t see how the trial can be fair, in either direction. But saddest part of all this is that this is a perfectly rational decision by the Obama administration. It is entirely consistent with what they have stated all along. Terrorism, or man caused disasters as they like to call it, is simply a law enforcement issue. The fact that it requires the armed forces to fight it effectively is a mere technicality. On the one hand its completely demented, on the other at least on this one point, the Obama administration is acting fairly consistent. Kudos for that, I suppose.

That said, this can only end badly.

Tom Maguire and Baseball Crank also knock it out of the park on the issue.