Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The Right’s nonsensical arguments about the terrorist trials

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Dahlia Lithwick at Slate:

Opposition to the Obama administration’s plan to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his confederates in a federal court in New York City is hardening into two camps. One is concerned that we may be unwittingly playing into the terrorists’ hands. The other is incensed that we already have. What both camps share, besides a kind of unhinged logic and complete disregard for the legal process, is an obsessive fascination with the accused. The result is a broad willingness to sacrifice our commitment to legal principles in favor of the symbolic satisfaction of crushing the hopes and dreams of a motley group of criminals.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, firmly in the first camp, is hopping mad that we are poised to make all the suspect’s dreams come true. As he said on ABC’s This Week: "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, when he was first arrested, asked to be brought to New York. I didn’t think we were in the business of granting the requests of terrorists."

Funny, that. I didn’t think we were in the business of caring one way or another what the terrorists want from us. The criminal justice system is as uninterested in advancing the goals of the accused as it is in frustrating them. The most vocal critics seem to forget that our legal system exists not to grant requests or dash hopes but to bring people to justice.

Giuliani seems to object mainly to trying terrorists in his backyard. Presumably, he would be fine prosecuting KSM in criminal court in Virginia. Or at least he was back when Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted on terror charges. At the time, Giuliani had this to say: "I was in awe of our system … that we can give people a fair trial, that we are exactly what we say we are. We are a nation of law." What Giuliani objects to, it seems, is the symbolic defeat of trying these defendants in the same place the crime occurred—hardly an exceptional undertaking in the criminal justice system. In his view, it’s somehow rude to New York itself to try the terrorists there…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 November 2009 at 5:15 pm

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