When O.J. Simpson nearly decapitated his wife and killed Ronald Goldman, the event happened in Brentwood, a very affluent area of Los Angeles. The subsequent circus trial and the nearly irrational acquittal of Simpson was made possible only by the decision of the Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti who, for politically correct reasons that only he could have understood, moved the trial to downtown Los Angeles. The change of venue of the trial changed the atmosphere, the jury, and (one could clearly argue) the outcome. The trial has now become the poster child for travesty of justice. As Charles Grodin once said (paraphrasing) “OJ’s blood was at the scene; Ron Goldman’s and Nicole Brown Simpson’s blood were in the white Ford Broncho. Why are we even having a trial?”
Flash forward to 2009. Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other 9-11 conspirators are going to be brought to New York for trial. This is the same KSM who admitted to planning the 9-11 attack and asked for the death sentence after admitting his guilt. There is not any question that he is guilty. He has already confessed. The question cannot help but be asked: What is the logic behind this decision?
Guilt or innocence: There is no doubt that KSM did that which he is accused of doing. Once again, he has already pled guilty to the crimes. Therefore there is no reason to even have a trial in open court. It wouldn’t be done for any other criminal who pled guilty to any crime (burglary, shoplifting, etc.). Additionally, what if the defendants were acquitted on a technicality? No one would let them go free. Therefore the trial won’t make any difference other than possibly giving them death sentences. I will point out again that the military tribunal could have done the same much more efficiently.
Financial cost: The City of New York has already asked for $75 million to cover security costs and anyone knows that is only a down payment. The cost of using a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay would be to set up some chairs and tables. It is insane to spend that much tax money on a trial in which you supposedly already know the results. The cost doesn’t even take into consideration the inconvenience, disruption, and increased risk that will be present in New York City. Those costs haven’t even been factored in.
Constitutionality: The United States Supreme Court, after years of revisions, has approved the process of the military tribunals. Attorney General Holder has already indicated that the defendants from the USS Cole attack will be tried in military tribunals, so clearly there is no constitutional issue there. On top of that is the precedent set that a terrorist gets better treatment for killing innocent civilians than for attacking legitimate military targets. This is an attack on the basic internationally agreed-to laws of war. Holder’s logic is completely convoluted and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
Therefore, one has to ask, what could be the possible motivation for holding a trial in New York which is a security nightmare, not required constitutionally, will provide an open forum for jihadist propaganda, will cost an unnecessary fortune, and can only screw up the admitted guilt of the defendants?
One can only look at the alternatives: 1) Attorney General Holder has no idea what he is doing; or 2) There is a political agenda. As much as it appears alternative one is possible, the likely answer is number two. If it is the purpose of the administration to attempt to paint the Bush administration in a bad light, it would be much cheaper, be less of a security risk, and be more constitutionally sane to just spend some money on some bad publicity than to conduct a show trial which will inevitably be a travesty of justice. I suppose to an administration which proposes trillions in new spending, $75 million doesn’t seem like much money, anyway, but in a poor economy, it is.
So it looks like Eric Holder will become the new Gil Garcetti on steroids, screwing up an easy conviction of a clearly guilty defendant for political purposes.