"KSM and his co-defendants will enjoy the benefits and rights that the Constitution accords to citizens and resident aliens," wrote John Yoo, law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in an op-ed in this Sunday's Wall Street Journal, "including the right to demand that the government produce in open court all of the information that it has on them, and how it got it.
"Prosecutors will be forced to reveal U.S. intelligence on KSM, the methods and sources for acquiring its information and his relationships to fellow al Qaeda operatives. … It will enable it to detect our means of intelligence-gathering, and to push forward into areas we know nothing about."
There is a difference between lawful and unlawful combatants in war. Historically, wars are fought between lawful combatants who wear uniforms, follow orders, and are captured and detained as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants do not wear uniforms; they seek to wage war by destroying life or property belonging not to other soldiers, but to innocent civilians. These unlawful combatants can be captured and detained like lawful combatants, but they can also be tried and sentenced by military tribunals.
This move to federal courts changes the rules of engagement in favor of those who have publicly stated that they want to destroy us. Whether we use military tribunals or civil courts, the terrorists' long-term goal will remain the same -- to destroy us. But the administration's use of civilian courts may compromise our national safety.
The Obama administration's decision opposes the wishes of the American people. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Survey released this week, "Two-thirds of Americans disagree with the Obama administration's decision." Instead, "the poll indicates that 64 percent believe Mohammed should be tried in military court, with 34 percent suggesting that he face trial in civilian court."
The American people appear to understand by an overwhelming margin that the attack was an act of war and that the people who masterminded the attack are unlawful enemy combatants.
After Sept. 11, 2001, a commission was established to investigate the circumstances surrounding the attack. When the 9-11 commission report was published, it said, "The most important failure was one of imagination." It added, "We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat."
Unfortunately, it appears as though in addition to a failure of imagination, our current leaders have a lack of understanding.