Worried about trying the ringleader of the 9/11 terrorists and four of his close associates in a civilian courtroom?
Don't be, says our president. He knows just how the trial will turn out -- Khalid Sheik Mohammed will be convicted and executed. We have his word on it.
He makes the trial sound like just a formality. And here some of us thought trials didn't have a predetermined outcome, not in America. Naive us.
Despite all the assurances from on high, almost every aspect of this coming trial-cum-circus troubles. From its hazy conception to, according to the president and his equally cocksure attorney general, foregone conclusion.
The prospect of moving this trial from safe and secure Guantanamo to bustling downtown Manhattan worries because, well, it's worrisome.
What possibly could go wrong? What couldn't? Some of us more cautious types worry that legal technicalities and complications will result in an endless trial without sure result, that the trial will require needless expense (the figure of $75 million just to assure New Yorkers' safety has been bruited about), that it will expose judges, jurors and witnesses to all too real threats (just as an earlier trial of jihadi bombers in New York did), that secrets about the sources and techniques of American intelligence may be revealed even inadvertently, and that the defendants will turn a federal courtroom into another forum for their pet hates. The country may be in for a repeat of the farcical proceedings in U.S. v. Zacarias Moussaoui, the stranger-than-usual terrorist now living out the rest of his days as the guest of the U.S. taxpayers at a maximum-security prison high in the scenic Rockies.
Pick your favorite downside of this change of venue. There are lots to choose from. And others will become evident only as this show trial gets on the road. It promises to have a longer run than any Broadway hit.
Don't forget the effect of such a spectacle on the immediate victims of the September 11 attacks -- the kith and kin of all those thousands murdered. "We are heartsick and weary of the delays and machinations," says Alice Hoagland, whose son died aboard United Flight 93 when its heroic passengers staged the first American counterattack in this war on terror. A war this administration would like to call something else. It prefers the euphemism "overseas contingency operations," as if not calling a war a war would end it.
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