9/11 justice delayed, denied
The 9/11 attacks on America came 11 years ago today. Yet it will be at least two more years until the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center in New York City is completed.
This other long-overdue task, however, is even more galling: Though admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been in U.S. custody for nearly a decade, The Associated Press reported Saturday that “one defense lawyer recently predicted the trial is about four years away.”
At least KSM’s al-Qaida boss, Osama bin Laden, finally got what was coming to him 16 months ago when Navy SEALs killed him in Pakistan.
And at least KSM, who has been imprisoned at Guantanamo for the last six years after being held for more than three years at undisclosed sites, is now back in the military justice system.
That’s a distinct improvement over Attorney General Eric Holder’s doubly ridiculous notion of trying him and four alleged accomplices in civilian court (absurdity No. 1) in Manhattan (absurdity No. 2). Sen. Charles Schumer was among the prominent New York Democrats who strongly and successfully objected to that misguided plan. The Obama administration finally heeded such protests last year by sending KSM back to the military system.
He and his codefendants were arraigned in Guantanamo during a May hearing. They refused to answer the judge’s questions or use the court’s translation system, and are likely to keep disrupting the process during pre-trial arguments scheduled to resume next month.
The inability to deal with KSM in a much more timely manner signals American weakness.
And the blame can’t fairly be fully put on the current administration. After all, Barack Obama didn’t become president until we had already held KSM for nearly six years.
Such an appalling case of justice delayed and denied is a telling contrast from this 70-year-old case of justice quickly achieved:
Eight German agents landed on American shores (four on Long Island, N.Y., the other four on Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.), aiming to inflict considerable sabotage on industrial, railroad and utility facilities in five states.
Less than two months later, six of them had been executed in an electric chair in Washington, D.C., after a military tribunal convicted them of espionage and “violating the law of war.” The two defendants who were spared the death penalty were sentenced to long prison terms, though six years later, they were released early and sent back to Germany.
We won that war.
So pause today to remember those who lost — and those who bravely gave — their lives on 9/11.
But don’t forget the sadly revealing reality that we still haven’t dispensed justice to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.