Are we at war -- or not?
For if we are at war, why is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed headed for trial in federal court in the Southern District of New York? Why is he entitled to a presumption of innocence and all of the constitutional protections of a U.S. citizen?
Is it possible we have done an injustice to this man by keeping him locked up all these years without trial? For that is what this trial implies -- that he may not be guilty.
And if we must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that KSM was complicit in mass murder, by what right do we send Predators and Special Forces to kill his al-Qaida comrades wherever we find them? For none of them has been granted a fair trial.
When the Justice Department sets up a task force to wage war on a crime organization like the Mafia or MS-13, no U.S. official has a right to shoot Mafia or gang members on sight. No one has a right to bomb their homes. No one has a right to regard the possible death of their wives and children in an attack as acceptable collateral damage.
Yet that is what we do to al-Qaida, to which KSM belongs.
We conduct those strikes in good conscience because we believe we are at war. But if we are at war, what is KSM doing in a U.S. court?
Minoru Genda, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, a naval base on U.S. soil, when America was at peace, and killed as many Americans as the Sept. 11 hijackers, was not brought here for trial. He was an enemy combatant under the Geneva Conventions and treated as such.
When Maj. Andre, the British spy and collaborator of Benedict Arnold, was captured, he got a military tribunal, after which he was hanged. When Gen. Andrew Jackson captured two British subjects in Spanish Florida aiding renegade Indians, Jackson had both tried and hanged on the spot.
Enemy soldiers who commit atrocities are not sent to the United States for trial. Under the Geneva Conventions, soldiers who commit atrocities are shot when caught.
When and where did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed acquire his right to a trial by a jury of his peers in a U.S. court?
When John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln, alleged collaborators like Mary Surratt were tried before a military tribunal and hanged at Ft. McNair. When eight German saboteurs were caught in 1942 after being put ashore by U-boat, they were tried in secret before a military commission and executed, with the approval of the Supreme Court. What makes KSM special?
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