Trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York

I keep putting off my feelings about trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York. I’ve already said that I want the trial here in New York City.

I’m going to take a lazy way out. Andrew Cohen’s arguments in The Atlantic sum up my feelings best. Some favorite snippets:

“Aren’t you willing to set aside your rage at his treatment for the diplomatic and political benefits America will receive from giving the guy an open trial? Don’t you think that treating Mohammed and his colleagues like common criminals is precisely the right message to send to the world about terrorism and al-Qaeda? Don’t you think it hurts their cause to be considered murderers and not jihadist soldiers?”

“Have you taken the time to look at the track record that federal prosecutors have in successfully trying terror suspects in New York? Can you name a single case where the feds lost a major terror trial since September 11, 2001? Can you name one from before the terrible events that day? Is Tim McVeigh walking around Buffalo today? Is Terry Nichols walking around Kansas? Is Ramzi Youssef back in Brooklyn or Zacarias Moussaoui out on an airfield trying to fly planes in Minnesota? Have you heard from Jose Padilla or Richard Reid lately?”

“Are you worried that Mohammed will try to turn his trial into political theatre? So what? The world already has heard what he and his al-Qaeda pals think of America. The world already has seen the photos from Abu Ghraib. The world knows about waterboarding. It’s old news. Mohammed is just a man, and soon he’ll be a defendant, and then he’ll be a ranting, shrieking crazy person in court, then he’ll be convicted and then he’ll be sentenced.”

Bottom line and these are my words: I want the opportunity to bring our case and all our evidence against him in open court. A public demonstration of the very thing we fight for – our system of justice and freedom. We say our way is the best and the most fair and here’s our chance to show it.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

6 thoughts on “Trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York

  1. Stacy with all due respect, KSM was repeatedly tortured, at any normal criminal trial the case would not even make it to court because of that. So this is a show trial with different criteria being applied, Obama has already said he expected a guilty verdict and death sentence. Ahmadinejad would be impressed with this theatre and likewise it will convince no one with an objective viewpoint of the US returning to the rule of law (after all habeas corpus still lies in ruins). The argument is not between liberals or conservatives as to venue, it is does the legal system further normalise torture? Secondly many other accused are still denied trials in proper legal courts, so cherry picking defendants for trial further makes a mockery of pretensions to objective justice. Cohen also includes Padilla in his list of justifications, he was tortured into insanity, justice is not vengeance, both are understandable but replacing one with the other is a disaster for an open society. May I recommend ‘Torture & Democracy’ by Darius Rejali. It might shine a light as to why the US now almost leads the world in opinion polls of support for torture. Justice ended when the Bush administration and the CIA with unethical psychologists and doctors implemented a new protocol of old CIA torture techniques.

  2. If we have a very hard lesson to learn about torture, ie, we lose this case because of it, so be it. Let’s get it all out there.

    And I agree about the injustice for the others who are denied trials. Lets start correcting our mistakes, and I know “mistakes” is an understatement.

  3. I would agree with that if we can be assured a fair trial but based on other terrorism trials (worldwide) and those involving state torture I don’t have your confidence, even if I admire your hope!

  4. I’m with you. I am a New Yorker. He should be tried here. We should always try a criminal near where they committed their crime.
    And if he’d acquitted, let him try to make it to the subway.

  5. Sweet! If we ever catch Osama bin Laden, we’d better read him his Miranda warning.

    He’ll be seen as a noble martyr throughout the Middle East in various al Qaida strongholds.

    All of his ranting that seems so stupid to us will appear as Jeffersonian to Islamic radicals. Probably it will be used as a recruiting tool. Including the caveat that in the US, if you’re caught, you may be tried instead of dispatched.

    New Yorkers are completely justified in wanting to see this heinous terrorist tried by New Yorkers. Regrettably, I agree with Rick that it is entirely a circus trial. And in the unlikely event that he was declared not guilty armed guards will make certain that he exits the city in safety.

  6. I wish that the message it would send to the world is we’re right and just, but the people we need to get that message already have their minds made up.

    What it really says is…attack our military you and your friends will know you’re a martyr, attack our civilians and we’ll let you tell the whole world you’re a martyr.

    I think it makes all of us more of a target, not just new yorkers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap