KSM 9/11 terror mastermind trial set to resume this week
Reporting from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba–While American’s prepare to cast their ballots in the presidential election, alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will enter a courtroom in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The government charges Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi with attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel, or aircraft, terrorism, and conspiracy in connection with the attacks on 9/11.
The U.S. terrorist attack killed 2,976 persons and a military tribunal will try the accused.
Defense and prosecuting attorney’s are finalizing their arguments and the alleged 9/11 mastermind will return to the military tribunal on Monday. His attorney’s did not indicate weather KSM would remain orderly or attempt to disrupt the courtroom, as the terrorist has done in previous court appearances.
The controversial Cuban detention facility is home to 166 prisoners, exactly 166 more than Mr. Obama promised voters would be on the Island after he was elected. President Obama has trimmed the population by 66 detainees, sent some to their home countries, and some like Said al Shihri, a former Gitmo resident who was released for re-indoctrination training, was killed by Obama’s controversial drone program in Yemen.
A pre-trial press conference revealed details that the government and defense attorney’s will argue in order to gain the upper hand. The clear strategy for the defense will be the CIA’s black sites and the government’s attempt to hide behind national security claims and keep evidence classified. The defense attorney’s plan to argue the information obtained from torture is inadmissible in court and therefore the government’s case should be severely weakened.
On the other hand, the government prosecutor, General Martin, says the evidence is a “rubric of relevance” and “relevance is a good gatekeeper.” He reassured members of the media that the government would not be using any statements obtained through torture. The General also told the media that members of the armed forces and lawyers are doing a good job under tough circumstances.
Attorney General Eric Holder delayed the original Gitmo trial process by trying to move the suspects, including self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York to be tried in federal court. Recent polling on this issue finds the majority of Americans supported military tribunals over a federal courtroom in downtown Manhattan, and Gitmo has been preparing the detention facilities for a number of years.
For those thinking justice delayed is justice denied, may feel the taxpayers’ tab for a military trial isn’t what they expected. The last criminal trial that was held in New York City came with a price tag of more than $200 million per year. Taxpayers should also know the last federal trial of the 20th hijacker, Mohammad al-Qahtani took four years to complete and it is now more than 11 years since the 9/11 terrorist attack.
The “Laws of War Covenants and Treaties” under which KSM and others are being charged, state in their preambles that they are agreements between countries, not political or criminal organizations. Seemingly, the 9/11 attackers were an organization that was also not a signatory to the “Laws of War” and other international covenants or treaties. While most American’s would agree their actions were evil and criminal, the acts of a criminal organization do not rise to the acts of nations, therefore, the basic precept of the US government to impose international law seems tenuous.
The members of al-Qaeda conspired as a criminal gang, like drug cartels, to attack multiple western countries for political/religious reasons, not to gain territory of a foreign state. If that is the case, American’s could question the use of drone strikes in sovereign countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Sudan) since Congress has not declared war against three of these nations. The “Laws of War” require that nation’s control the people within their sovereign territory so other nations cannot impose their wills upon foreign nationals within that sovereign territory that are not acting on behalf of a nation (i.e. separatist movements in Spain, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Chechen, and now Syria).
International law is used to arrest, hold, and extradite individuals within a sovereign nation at the request of another sovereign nation (Wikileaks, Blind Sheik), but the “Laws of War” are not an instrument of use for individual criminal acts. Even military leaders or state leaders are only subject to international convention and the “Laws of War” because their countries are signatories of the covenants. For example, Libya is refusing to turnover Gadhafi’s son to The Hague for trial because the state is willing to try him under its laws just as Iraq did with brutal dictator Saddam Hussein.
Critics argue that the Guantanamo defendant’s actions, regardless how heinous, amount to nothing more than international criminal actions and if the acts had been committed in the U.S. they would be tried under federal law, just as Jose Padilla was in 2002.
As the weeklong trial unfolds several questions will be posed. For instance what exactly is the government’s standard of proof? In a “rule of law” society, as the American Constitution intended, the government must prove some basics: The Sixth Amendment requirement of a speedy trial by an impartial jury of their peers, in the district wherein the crime occurred, and the defendant’s ability to confront their accusers (and evidence). If they are charged with federal crimes, as civilians, they are to appear in a federal courtroom. (Note: KSM wasn’t arrested in the U.S., the government “snatched and grabbed” him in Pakistan).
If the government prevails in its prosecution under tribunals of non-combatants vice following the “rule of law” it is conceivable it could undermine America’s capability to apply the law equally under Lady Justice’s purview and American jurisprudence may forever be tainted.
Check back Monday afternoon to see if KSM speaks or remains silent…
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