Let me be the first, Mr. Shields

to cheer the announcement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will face a civilian trial in New York City.

I like it even better because it disturbs David Brooks, whose take on it is that, apparently, mass murder’s not a crime, according to his comments during the NewsHour earlier this evening.

As a plus, it makes Michael Mukasey nervous.
Mukasey, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

By bringing the alleged Sept. 11 conspirators to New York, the Obama administration risks making the city “the focus of mischief in the form of murder by adherents of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” Mr. Mukasey said.

In addition,

    he said that trying the defendants in federal court risks disclosure of intelligence secrets

.

“I can’t see anything good coming out” of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision, Mr. Mukasey said.

As a federal district judge, Mr. Mukasey presided over the criminal trial stemming from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Although the defendants were convicted, Mr. Mukasey has said the experience persuaded him that federal courts were not equipped to handle sensitive terrorism trials.

Other judges disagree. U.S. District Judge John Coughenour, who presided over the trial of “millennium bomber” Ahmed Ressam, has said that the federal courts could handle the security requirements of such cases.

Responding to an audience question, Mr. Mukasey said that if the defendants were to be tried anywhere in the U.S., the Southern District of New York, where he once served as chief judge, was the best venue.

“I’m a partisan of the Southern District of New York,” he said. “I know of no jurisdiction” where the prosecutors and judges were better prepared to deal with hardened terror suspects.

ANYTHING that “risks disclosure” of secrets from w/dick’s administration’s a serious bonus IMNVHO.
Families of the victims, survivors, and other prosecutors say it’s time to do this.

Jim Riches, whose firefighter son, Jimmy, died in the attacks, welcomed the decision.

“Let them come to New York,” said Mr. Riches, a retired deputy chief with New York Fire Department. “Let them get on trial. Let’s do it the right way, for all the world to see what they’re like. Let’s go. It’s been too long. Let’s get some justice.”

Mr. Riches has traveled to Washington, where he heard Justice Department officials discuss the case, and to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he attended a hearing where he said Mr. Mohammed gloated over his role in the attacks. He said he would follow the trial no matter its venue, but now wanted to see Mr. Mohammed answer charges in court.

“My son died,” Mr. Riches said. “I want to speak for him. I’ll go wherever I have to go. I want to see these guys convicted.”

Both Brooks and Mark Shields suggest the 11-September-2001 attacks are not criminal acts but acts of war.
Brooks openly expressed fear that a trial would provide a bigger microphone for the terrorists’ message.

Um, David? Mark? Here’s a thought: by treating a confessed murderer like a murderer, rather than some special category of uber-devil, maybe, a trial in federal court minimizes the effectiveness of the terrorists’ intended message.

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks confidently of the possibility not merely of a fair trial but of a conviction, and says he will seek the death penalty. Now, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s status as a criminal defendant is a huge change from “enemy combatant,” and that’s one of those important steps back toward a civilized nation ours must make if we’re ever to shake off the taint of the Bush administration in the eyes of the world.

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