Some of us went to law school hoping we might one day participate in the “trial of the century.” That trial would command universal attention, involve the central issue of the epoch, and result not only in a just verdict but also a vindication of our way of life.
There may be an element of this sort of juvenile thinking in the decision to try KSM in federal court in New York. The trial will certainly command vast attention and it concerns matters that have dominated this century to date.
Most of all, some liberals seem to think that when a New York jury convicts KSM it will vindicate our justice system and, indeed, our democracy. Think of the New Yorkers as the Amish at the end of the classic movie “Witness;” the prosecutors as Harrison Ford saying “enough,” and KSM as that cop who “lost his religion” and is forced to bow his head in shame in front of the assembled, God-fearing Plain People.
It’s a nice fantasy, but no more. KSM is not going to bow his head; he is going to pitch his cause. Few in this country will sympathize, though some will. But in certain quarters of the world, his message will resonate.
Nor can the trial vindicate our system of justice. For, as John and others have pointed out, KSM will not be freed if he is acquitted. This makes the trial a sham.
Thus, when the judge delivers his or her message to KSM (he or she will probably unable to resist), the words will not impress him and should not particularly impress us. The MSM will tout them, as they did Judge Brinkema’s words to Moussaou (she said he would “die with a whimper”) but the victims of 9/11 will still be dead, the defendant will still be unrepentant, and we will still be regarded as a laughingstock by our enemies for having been played by KSM.
The judge will probably claim that we are the winners and KSM is the loser. The judge will be correct. But not because we wasted millions of dollars providing the terrorist with a platform, only to achieve a preordained outcome that could have been obtained without doing so.
We are the winners because KSM’s fellow terrorists have, against the odds, been unable so far to strike us again. And that’s not down to our legal system; it’s down to the way we went about fighting terrorism, including the tough tactics we employed against KSM and other terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11.
Herein may lie the most fundamental reason why President Obama and Attorney General want to have this trial. They would like to move our courts to the center of the stage in the fight against terrorism and associate the judicial system, and themselves, with a success story that actually was achieved through less lofty means.
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