Nov 23, 2009
On November 13, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. would try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused 9/11 “mastermind,” and four other accused co-conspirators in civilian court in New York City.
Could Mohammed have been involved in terror, or even the 9/11 attack? Maybe. Could he hate the United States? Quite probably. But in that regard he’s no different from the millions upon millions of people in the world who hate the U.S. – and with reason, given what the U.S. has done to their countries.
None of that is explanation enough to bring him to trial NOW, after six years.
For five years Bush could not find any way to bring Mohammed to trial. You can bet that the Bush administration would have loved to carry out a high-profile trial of an accused 9/11 mastermind. They would have loved to make a big show to demonstrate they were doing something to “keep America safe.”
But they couldn’t find a way to make such a trial credible. To bring a man to trial who had been kept completely isolated for years, with no access to any kind of support, legal or otherwise, and who had been tortured continuously – as the U.S. itself admits – means from the outset that the trial is nothing but a new Salem witch trial.
Mohammed’s “confession” itself was extracted only after a prolonged period of torture at Guantanamo. All experts in the fields of criminal justice and military intelligence have said repeatedly that torture never produces reliable information; it only produces whatever lies the torturer wants to extract.
If the Obama administration is pursuing this trial now, it has other interests than the simple pursuit of justice. And those interests are not hard to guess: the Obama administration is trying to figure out a way to step up the U.S. war in Afghanistan, at a time when an increasing number of Americans are opposed to the war. This trial is part and parcel of a campaign to convince us that we’re under attack from terrorism, and that we have no choice but to support the war.
In other words, we’re right back where Bush started.
This is a show trial, pure and simple.
Maybe Mohammed, wanting to be a martyr, will play along with the prosecution by pleading guilty and taking “credit” for the attack on the World Trade Center. Maybe the administration figures it will be able to sway enough jurors, in a New York City still traumatized by the attack, to accept their flimsy evidence and sentence him to death. Either way, the outcome is not in doubt: both Eric Holder and Obama himself have openly made statements about “When he’s convicted and put to death.” Not if – when.
The ONLY reason for this trial – now, in a civilian court, in New York City of all places – is to try to whip up support for that dirty war in Afghanistan.