Khalid Sheikh Mohammed planned and helped execute the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans. He also planned the 1993 World Trade Center Attack, the attacks in Bali and Kenya that killed hundreds more, and attacks that never had the chance to take place thanks to his capture and interrogation by American intelligence agents. We know this because KSM himself openly brags about his atrocities as a point of pride.
Now some have decided to help him commit his final atrocity — by painting himself as a victim:
On Monday, some six years after 9/11, military prosecutors filed charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Qaeda’s foreign-operations chief, along with five of his conspirators. They will stand before a military tribunal, and if convicted they could face execution. And as if to prove that the U.S. has lost its seriousness and every sense of proportion, now we are told not that KSM is a killer, but a victim.
The victim, supposedly, of President Bush. Opponents of military commissions (including Barack Obama) want KSM & Co. turned over to the regular civilian courts, or at least to military courts-martial; anything else is said to abridge American freedoms. This attitude is either disingenuous or naïve, or both, because it is tenable only by discounting the nature of the attacks and the enemies who carried them out. …
Purportedly the tribunals are illegitimate because they do not afford every last Miranda right or due-process safeguard of the civilian courts. The key and appropriate distinction is that foreign terrorists are not entitled to the protections of the U.S. Constitution. They also violated the laws of war — for example, by deliberately targeting civilians. International law has always held that such people deserve fewer legal protections, much less those of civilian defendants.
Allowing KSM access to civilian courts would provide one of the most foul ironies in American justice. KSM plotted from abroad to commit terrorist attacks on the US and its citizens, including the mass murder of thousands of civilians — and succeeded twice, although WTC I in 1993 didn’t collapse the Twin Towers as he had hoped. That isn’t a criminal act; it’s an act of war, one with precedent all the way back to the founding of this nation. He also helped attack the Pentagon, making 9/11 clearly an act of war. No one suggested arresting the Barbary Pirates and trying them in civilian courts during the first few decades of our existence — we formed a standing Navy and sent the Marines to kill them.
It should be remembered that KSM wanted to see the US collapse. His organization, al-Qaeda, wants to eliminate court systems based on the rule of law and have them replaced by shari’a courts based on the whims of radical Muslim imams. Given that and the fact that we didn’t arrest him in Hoboken but captured him abroad while plotting even more acts of war and terrorism against the US, the notion that he deserves a day in an American civilian court insults both our system of justice and the memory of the thousands of people KSM killed.
Nor does KSM deserve a court-martial. Only military personnel get courts-martial as befitting their standing. KSM conducted his war as an unlawful combatant, not in the uniform of any recognized military nor in the service of a legitimate government. Nuremberg, it should be recalled, was not a court-martial either; it was a tribune which tried both civilian and military leaders for their crimes against humanity.
Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have all settled on the current military tribunal system, which gives KSM a lot more justice than he deserves. It has more protections and evidentiary restrictions than the International Criminal Court, as the WSJ notes. It beats what KSM really deserves as a consequence of his unlawful combatant status under the circumstances — a single pellet of lead in the brainpan.