The recent announcement that Khalid Sheik Muhammad and four other conspirators in the 9/11 attacks in a federal courtroom shocked and outraged many people, your faithful blogger included. After trying this before with the first World Trade Center bombers, we're going back to the well and hoping this time treating international terrorism as a legal matter actually does something this time.
As you might have guessed, I'm a bit pessimistic about the likelihood of this working any better than the last time.
Since this door has been opened, we should take a minute to review the possible outcomes of such a trial.
The terrorists are convicted and get the death penalty. Let me just say up front that this is the outcome I'm rooting for. The death penalty has always been reserved for the most heinous of crimes, and I'd have to say 9/11 ranks pretty high on the heinousness charts. However, I do have to admit the Left has a point about the use of the death penalty in this particular case. When it comes to Islamic terrorists, nothing is more desirable than to die as a martyr, and executing Khalid Sheik Muhammad and his cohorts would certainly bring up the possibility of them dying as martyrs. This may be one time I'd be in favor of creative sentencing.
The terrorists are convicted and get life. This is the resolution the Left is hoping for because they think it will show the world that we aren't like the terrorists and that our legal system can render a solid verdict. I think I'd be a little more supportive of this outcome were it not for the fact that prisons have become Muslim recruitment centers. Essentially, giving KSM and his buddies life in prison would be giving them access to potential terrorists who could be trained to attack this country. It may take martyrdom off the table, but it doesn't remove the danger.
The terrorists are acquitted. Talk about the worst possible outcome! Even though it's unlikely at this point, it is a possibility and we should discuss it. Where this outcome comes into play is if the evidence against KSM and his conspirators is deemed inadmissible due to the possibility of it being gathered under duress. With the right lawyer, they could all walk, which creates another problem. Once they are freed, they can fade into the background. And since they'll be in jail awaiting the verdict, they may be able to connect with potential recruits on the inside...and the outside. Then, it's only a matter of time before we see more domestic terrorism in our backyards.
As much as I hate to say it, there are no perfect answers in this situation, only variations of tolerable ones. And when you consider this situation was brought on by Attorney General Eric Holder, in spite of the failure of the first time America tried the legal route to combat terrorism, the Gordian Knot gets a lot harder to solve.