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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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37 Responses

  1. Sid
    Sid April 5, 2011 at 10:34 am |

    He is alleged to have plotted the September 11th attacks. And I’m skeptical how much “justice” would be in the eyes of a dozen New Yorkers chosen to be on his jury.

  2. Jessica Isabel
    Jessica Isabel April 5, 2011 at 11:29 am |

    And you think he’ll get justice at Guantanamo Bay? New Yorkers suffered the most from the attacks (as well as the surrounding states and I dunno THE WHOLE COUNTRY).

    My uncle had to cross the GW bridge on foot in order to get home that day. He was in his 70′s and worked two blocks away from the towers as a janitor. Just thinking about it makes me angry that this man won’t be tried in NY State, where he belongs.

  3. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 5, 2011 at 11:58 am |

    Sid:
    He is alleged to have plotted the September 11th attacks.And I’m skeptical how much “justice” would be in the eyes of a dozen New Yorkers chosen to be on his jury.

    I’m thinking that there would be more justice in a civilian court than a military tribunal, where things like hearsay is allowed.

  4. Sid
    Sid April 5, 2011 at 12:02 pm |

    It should be obvious that I don’t think he’ll get justice in a military tribunal, but let’s not pretend a civilian court case with a NY jury is going to be a paragon of impartiality, either. After all, the NY Times editors and the OP have already assumed guilt.

  5. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin April 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

    It’s “not-in-my-backyard” syndrome. It’s also closely related to, “I accept people of color, so long as they don’t move next door to me”. It’s easy to intellectualize a stance, and often difficult to conceptualize it in reality.

  6. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm |

    This whole thing irritates me. This guy is going to be put to death regardless of what method is employed. I dislike the idea of putting on a show for showmanship’s sake.

  7. CassieC
    CassieC April 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm |

    This is cowardice on the side of the US government. KSM was tortured, waterboarded 183 times (at least). Any confessions of guilt are unadmissible by a normal court, and because of what he has suffered, any testimony is also suspect, because how he be expected to process questions associated with his horrific torture impartially? For all practical purposes, the US has tortured this man into insanity.

    The military tribunals are a cover up for torture in this case, and its consequences in a system that should obey the rule of law. The trial should be turned around: the prosecution should be tried for torture, which was and still is an international crime.

    And sorry for the New Yorkers or anyone who wanted to see justice done. Your government screwed it up in your name big time. Even if this guy was guilty, he can’t be tried by any civilized judicial entity any more.

  8. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    >I mean, KSM confessed? So I don’t think it’s totally out there for the NYT to assume he’s guilty of some role in the 9/11 attacks.

    Confessions obtained by torture hold no weight whatsoever.

  9. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm |

    @cassie – THANK YOU!

    Some people need to pop the bubble they live in, before they completely lose the ability to think outside of their own limited experience.

  10. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm |

    What CassieC said. His confession would not have been admissible as it was given under duress-torture. Most of the evidence against him would not be admissible, given how we obtained it. I think this is why the GOP was pushing so hard for a military tribunal rather than a civilian court with the eyes of the world watching. I’m sickened that the Administration caved on this very fundamental thing that had the base in Obama’s corner for so long.

  11. William
    William April 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm |

    The cowardice goes deeper than that. His trial has to be in front of a tribunal because, to have it in public, would mean owning up to the use of torture. It would mean exposing all the dirty little abuses that Bush laughed about and that Obama is embarrassed about (though not quite enough to stop using them).

  12. William
    William April 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm |

    The cowardice goes deeper than that. His trial has to be in front of a tribunal because, to have it in public, would mean owning up to the use of torture. It would mean exposing all the dirty little abuses that Bush laughed about and that Obama is embarrassed about (though not quite enough to stop using them).

  13. LoriA
    LoriA April 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm |

    @Sid and Jessica Isabel
    Right. And OJ Simpson is innocent and Mel Gibson is too until proven otherwise.
    We aren’t on a jury here. We can say the obvious.

    This is not, of course, to defend the torture they put this guy through.

  14. Jadey
    Jadey April 5, 2011 at 1:57 pm |

    LoriA: We can say the obvious.

    Is there evidence outside of the confession? Confessions gained under coercive circumstances are both unethical and unreliable, so I’m not clear on what makes his culpability obvious. I’m not intimately familiar with this case, so this really is a genuine question – is there additional evidence and does anyone know what it is?

  15. Sid
    Sid April 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    LoriA:
    @Sid and Jessica Isabel
    Right. And OJ Simpson is innocent and Mel Gibson is too until proven otherwise.
    We aren’t on a jury here. We can say the obvious.

    This is not, of course, to defend the torture they put this guy through.

    Who needs a justice system when we have your impeccable judgment. And further seconding CassieC and Paraxeni.

  16. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    I’ll sign on to the chorus. In addition, I doubt the case could even go to verdict in a civilian court. Do they have sufficient non-coerced evidence to sustain the charges? My guess is this is more about Obama trying to avoiding being the guy who let a “terrorist” go than it is about protecting our record on torture. That cat is out of the bag.

  17. Nailed it
    Nailed it April 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: He is alleged to have plotted the September 11th attacks. And I’m skeptical how much “justice” would be in the eyes of a dozen New Yorkers chosen to be on his jury.

    Yup, this nails it exactly. The outcome of any trial of KSM is a foregone conclusion- why waste a billion dollars in extra security in NYC to give this guy a show civilian trial?

  18. Nailed it
    Nailed it April 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm |

    Jadey: Is there evidence outside of the confession? Confessions gained under coercive circumstances are both unethical and unreliable, so I’m not clear on what makes his culpability obvious. I’m not intimately familiar with this case, so this really is a genuine question – is there additional evidence and does anyone know what it is?

    There are mountains of evidence for his culpability in planning 9/11. Read The Longest War by Peter Bergen. He also confessed his involvement to Al Jazeera before he was arrested.

    Also, from Wiki, here is what was found on his hard drive:

    According to the “unclassified summary of evidence” presented during the Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing in 2007 a computer hard drive seized during the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed contained the following:

    information about the four airplanes hijacked on 11 September 2001 including code names, airline company, flight number, target, pilot name and background information, and names of the hijackers
    photographs of 19 individuals identified as the 11 September 2001 hijackers
    a document that listed the pilot license fees for Mohammad Atta and biographies for some of the 11 September 2001 hijackers.
    images of passports and an image of Mohammad Atta.
    transcripts of chat sessions belonging to at least one of the 11 September 2001 hijackers.
    three letters from Osama bin Laden
    spreadsheets that describe money assistance to families of known al Qaeda members
    a letter to the United Arab Emirates threatening attack if their government continued to help the United States
    a document that summarized operational procedures and training requirements of an al Qaeda cell
    a list of killed and wounded al Qaeda militants.

  19. LoriA
    LoriA April 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    @Jadey
    Besides the fact that he has a long history of organizing these sorts of things, fellow terrorists have corroborated his confession. There are also paper trails showing his financial involvement, if I recall correctly.

    @Sid
    Uh, did I say that? No, what I said was *we are not the judicial system*. We are commenters on a freakin’ blog, so we don’t have to hold ourselves to some standard of impartiality in order to make casual remarks based on pretty overwhelming reports of his guilt.

  20. LoriA
    LoriA April 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    Oh, he also admitted his involvement in 9/11- though not his specific role- well before he was captured, to Al Jazeera.

  21. William
    William April 5, 2011 at 4:34 pm |

    My guess is this is more about Obama trying to avoiding being the guy who let a “terrorist” go than it is about protecting our record on torture. That cat is out of the bag.

    Its probably a bit about that too, but think about the spectacle. If KSM was tried in a civilian court the world would be treated to a series of government officials either refusing to answer questions or admitting to torture. The extent would be described, the manner, the frequency. The public already knows that we torture, but I doubt that knowledge would inoculate much against graphic details and bureaucrats being put in a position where the only real choices are to defend torture or claim that they’re above a civilian court’s need-to-know. It would be ugly, uncontrollable, and the administration would find itself having to answer. Thats terrifying to a president who wants to hold onto all of the illegal powers his predecessor grabbed for while at the same time trying to sell the rest of the world some hockum about change and a New Boss.

    Yup, this nails it exactly. The outcome of any trial of KSM is a foregone conclusion- why waste a billion dollars in extra security in NYC to give this guy a show civilian trial?

    At that point, why bother with a show trial at all? Get the intelligence you need and then put a bullet to him once he’s outlived his usefulness. Countless governments have played the same game before. After all, he’s not even a POW, right? Enemy Combatant and all that. You could even dress it up in the press release as an escape attempt or a suicide.

    Either this is about justice or its about vengeance. You cannot have it both ways. If we are to live by the rule of law we need to accept the consequences that come with that: expense, the chance he’ll go free, the likelihood of embarrassment or circus. If not then the whole idea of a tribunal is, at best, bad propaganda. Either we have ideals or we don’t, simple as that.

  22. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm |

    William: The cowardice goes deeper than that. His trial has to be in front of a tribunal because, to have it in public, would mean owning up to the use of torture.

    I guess what makes me nervous about this is that KSM? I’m guessing he’s probably guilty of some fucked up shit. However, I don’t think the vast majority of people that we’ve held are guilty of the things we’ve accused them of (if we even got around to accusing them). Does this set a precedent? Are all of the other people we tortured also going to be tried behind closed doors?

    When it comes down to it, I don’t think the average USian gives a damn if we tortured someone guilty of something heinous (but I’m a pessimist). I do think they’d get pissed off if we started torturing people for being brown and in the Middle East though. I want all of those people tried front and center (and freed with some ridiculous kind of reparations) so that the USian people know what we’ve been up to.

  23. Sid
    Sid April 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm |

    LoriA:
    @Jadey
    Besides the fact that he has a long history of organizing these sorts of things, fellow terrorists have corroborated his confession. There are also paper trails showing his financial involvement, if I recall correctly.

    @Sid
    Uh, did I say that? No, what I said was *we are not the judicial system*. We are commenters on a freakin’ blog, so we don’t have to hold ourselves to some standard of impartiality in order to make casual remarks based on pretty overwhelming reports of his guilt.

    Right, just like we’re not mental health professionals, so we need not hold ourselves to medical standards when casually remarking on the mental state of individuals in the face of overwhelming reports of exhibition of traits associated with that condition? That’s stupid, and casual assumption of guilt contributes to an atmosphere similar to one in which WMDs are assumed to be in a certain country (drumming up soft support for a war in that nation), and where many men of color are assumed guilty of certain heinous crimes (drumming up soft support for their death). Much of the corroborative evidence you cite comes from individuals who themselves have been detained for long periods of time, and he disputes his “admission” to AJ. I’m not saying that KSM is innocent, or that there is no extra-”confessional” evidence against him, there is. But it is disputed and uneven and the vast majority of it is locked up and almost certain not to see public eyes to be questioned. Hardly overwhelming.

    And in point of fact, my quibble was not with the Times or the OP “implying that he’s guilty of some involvement in the 9/11 attacks.” The OP (pre-edit) and the Times stated outright that he plotted the attacks, which is as yet unproven.

  24. NaS
    NaS April 6, 2011 at 1:59 am |

    Our federal criminal system is not exactly a paragon of fairness, nor is it worthy of any special respect. If you think that the Obama Administration choosing to try KSM in military court is an insult, it is not such an insult as European courts refusing extradition to the US on the basis of the inhumanity of our prison conditions and death sentencing procedures. In terms of humanity in sentencing, at least, the military justice system stands head and shoulders above the federal system, having executed only one person in the last fifty years (the feds have executed several people in the last decade). According to an article in the LAT, KSM is less likely to be handed the death sentence in a military commission than in fed court. While it may damage the dignity of the federal criminal system (for which I have no great respect) to have KSM tried in a military commission, it will protect the dignity of the USA for us if we do not put down our defeated adversary like a dog after torturing him for years. In any event, KSM, whose guilt is not seriously questioned and whose acquittal would not be accepted by the Obama Administration, stands little to gain from evidentiary and procedural advantages in federal court. KSM, if he wants to be in federal court at all, wants to be there for the publicity.

  25. Mary Tracy
    Mary Tracy April 6, 2011 at 7:05 am |

    If there is so much reliable evidence to convict him… why the torture? Just to get a cofession? It doesn’t add up to me.

    As a general rule of thumb, every time a state tortures people, the state is corrupt and the people are (mostly) innocent. Why should this rule break to make an exception for the US is beyond me.

  26. William
    William April 6, 2011 at 7:58 am |

    I guess what makes me nervous about this is that KSM? I’m guessing he’s probably guilty of some fucked up shit. However, I don’t think the vast majority of people that we’ve held are guilty of the things we’ve accused them of (if we even got around to accusing them). Does this set a precedent? Are all of the other people we tortured also going to be tried behind closed doors?

    This, a thousand times this. Honestly, I wouldn’t be too terribly bothered if KSM had been quietly picked up on a battlefield somewhere, turned over to some sociopath in one of the intelligence agencies, and conveniently died when he’d given up everything he had to give up. Bad things happen in wars, he’s pretty clearly guilty, and he knew what he was getting himself into when he decided to play the international terrorism game.

    The problem with how this has been handled, though, is that by systematizing this ugly reality of war we’ve turned the treatment of KSM into the rule rather than the exception. Now every goat herder in the wrong place at the wrong time is in danger of being picked up and subjected to an entire apparatus of torture, indefinite detention, and show trials on the off chance that one of them might know something. KSM becomes the clearly guilty party used to justify an unjustifiable system.

  27. jpe
    jpe April 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    Congress prevented Obama from trying KSM anywhere but Gitmo. They’re the ones to blame, not Obama.

  28. LoriA
    LoriA April 6, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

    @Sid
    “Right, just like we’re not mental health professionals, so we need not hold ourselves to medical standards when casually remarking on the mental state of individuals in the face of overwhelming reports of exhibition of traits associated with that condition?”

    That is an exercise in ableism. Calling people out on the violence they commit when there is very strong evidence for it (Nailed It’s post) is not even close to being similar. Privilege and power, dude, privilege and power. Similarly, you can’t say that accusing one man of a violent act based on overwhelming evidence is just like our racist culture looking at all men of color as criminals. And finally, I’m almost 100% positive that George Bush did not give a flying fuck if the general public agreed with him about WMDs; he gave it the college try, getting the public on his side, but he was going in there anyway.

    I assume you’re the kind of guy who also barges in on all the threads about abuse reminding us to use the word ‘alleged.’

    @Mary Tracy
    “If there is so much reliable evidence to convict him… why the torture? ”
    I have a one word answer for this: vengeance.

  29. William
    William April 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm |

    If there is so much reliable evidence to convict him… why the torture?

    KSM wasn’t tortured to get a confession. Most of the people defending his torture would say he was tortured to get at all the knowledge he had about Al Qaeda plans, agents, and structures. I suppose if something was time sensitive that might be a compelling (if ethically questionable) argument, but given that the US had all the time in the world with him there were better means of manipulating someone like him.

    No, KSM was tortured in order to exact retribution, in order to mark his body and mind in such a way that his torturers might feel they had extracted some measure of suffering from him to balance out the suffering that he caused. Confession was merely the framework used to justify the process so that the Good, Hard, Patriotic, Christian Men wouldn’t have to openly face their own sadism.

  30. saurus
    saurus April 6, 2011 at 6:30 pm |

    Not to over-analyze, but I think it’s odd how Khalid’s name is being abbreviated, in this thread and in news sources. If his name were Mary Dean Peters or comparably white-friendly I don’t think we’d all refer to him as MDP. It makes him sound like a corporation or something.

  31. Raja
    Raja April 6, 2011 at 9:25 pm |

    I think its because its hard to spell for most people.

  32. Dianne
    Dianne April 10, 2011 at 11:00 am |

    My uncle had to cross the GW bridge on foot in order to get home that day. He was in his 70′s and worked two blocks away from the towers as a janitor.

    This sort of thing is exactly why changes of venue exist. Too many people in NY are direct or indirect victims of the attack and I can’t imagine how an impartial jury could be found in New York, much less lower Manhattan. People who are victims, even indirect victims, of a crime are unlikely to be able to keep an open mind on the question of guilt of an alleged perpetrator.

  33. LoriA
    LoriA April 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    @saurus, Raja, and Jill
    I think saurus made an important point here and that Jill totally missed it. Mohammed is not some celebrity whose name we’re abbreviating because it sounds cute and catchy to do so; he’s a mass murderer whose name- as Raja rightly pointed out- is difficult to spell (I’ve messed it up in this comment thread). What’s racist,or at the very least, ethnocentric, is the unwillingness to put in the extra 6 seconds it takes to *try* to spell it. The world shouldn’t revolve around English-speakers *all* the time, and the least we can do is make an attempt to reciprocate every now and then.

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