“Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, will be tried by a military commission in Guantánamo. It is the latest retreat by the Obama administration from its much-vaunted plans to overhaul the legal processing of terror suspects.
Mohammed and four other terror suspects will be put on trial through a military system that President Obama had vowed to abolish when he began in office in January 2009.
The about-face is hugely symbolic as Mohammed was al-Qaida's main architect of 9/11, according to the commission of inquiry into the terrorist outrages convened in New York. How he is treated arguably sets the tone for America's legal handling of terror suspects.” Guardian online 4/4/11
Apart from the Republicans and some Democrats making it very clear that they would oppose any civil trial on US soil, there was also the issue of using torture to get evidence. The CIA admitted that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was water boarded 183 times in a month. Despite the claims of the egregious Chaney, the use of water boarding is cruel and inhuman punishment i.e. torture. All the ‘confessions’ and the ‘admissions’ would have been ruled as inadmissible evidence because of the illegal methods used to obtain it. So a Civil Trial became a major problem.
A President who practiced what he preached would have dug his heels in and insisted that the Rule of Law operates above all else. He would have held a trial on US soil under US jurisdiction. Yes it would have been difficult. Yes, great chunks of so called ‘evidence’ would have been ruled inadmissible. Yes, there was a possibility that because of this KSM could have walked free. But it would have been right. Instead Obama has caved in and given in to the thick, the undemocratic and the raving right in his country.
What he is left with is a mess. The so-called tribunal in Guantanamo is an absolute gift to terrorists and despots around the world. The staging of what is in effect a show trial gives strength to enemies of the US and disheartens their allies and friends. It throws the Rule of Law into the bin. It also helps remind us that the US, significantly, does not recognise the International Criminal Court.
We will hear no more of ‘the city on the hill’ and ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’ and talk of ‘human rights’ from US spokesfolks around the world. We will remember that when faced with the issue of upholding the Rule of Law (one of the bulwarks of the Constitution) or of giving in to (at best) a more pragmatical approach, this President let the founding fathers down.