Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Are We Afraid Of?

There are some things that I will never understand. One of those is the uproar among many conservatives about the decision by the Obama Adminstration to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and others in New York, mere blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center. You'd think that Eric Holder had just released KSM out into the American public. The reasoning against putting KSM and his ilk on trial makes no sense. It makes me wonder, what are we so afraid of?

Because that's what we are talking about here: fear. Conservatives have made a point of making people like KSM into monsters that we can't control. And in fear, we seem to think that we need to suspend all the rules that made this country great. Terrorism is about inspiring fear. And in many cases, conservatives have fallen for the fear.

There has been a lot of talk about how a trial could result in KSM walking free. Senator Chuck Grassley, a politician that a respect has nonetheless come out with one of the most asinine statements, likening the upcoming trial to the OJ Simpson trial. Please. The judicial system has tried terrorists before and did a good job of it. The thugs that plotted the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center were given a trial before a judge and were put away for a long time. As for this being a place where KSM could start ranting and raving....well, as frustrating as that can be, I think the American judicial system can handle a crazy man spouting inanities.

As for the risk of a terror attack in New York? Well, we could not try KSM and NYC would still have a target. The recent arrest of plotters in different parts of the country proves that there are people plotting to do harm regardless. Just because we don't try KSM in New York doesn't mean that the city is now safe.

Yes, going this route has its weaknesses, but it is the system of justice that we have. And it also shows something to KSM and other terrorists. Even though they treated us with no respect by their wanton killing, we will not respond in kind and stoop to their low level. We are their superiors and they will be brought low and get the justice they deserve.

As Steven Simon writes, such a trail might prove cathartic as it did for another nation that suffered a great tragedy:
The real propaganda event is likely to unfold very differently. Instead of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed making his case, we will see the full measure of the horror of 9/11 outlined to the world in a way that only methodical trials can accomplish. Historically, the public exposure of state-sponsored mass murder or terrorism through a transparent judicial process has strengthened the forces of good and undercut the extremists. The Nuremberg trials were a classic case. And nothing more effectively alerted the world to the danger of genocide than Israel’s prosecution in 1961 of Adolf Eichmann, the bureaucrat who engineered the Holocaust.

Having a public trial where KSM and his warped ideology is exposed for the genocidal evil that it is could very well undercut the jihadis instead of stregthening them.

So, I ask my fellow conservatives to stop acting scared and act like grown ups. If we can face down the Soviets, we can handle a two-bit thug like KSM.


Transplanted Lawyer said...

I'd agree with all of this if Eric Holder hadn't announced to all the world that this is going to be a mere show trial. KSM and even al-Qaeda are not existential threats to the United States. They could not possibly destroy us. But we can destroy ourselves if we betray our core principles for the sake of political expediency.

Philip H. said...

Would that it were so, but they believe fear is the path back to power. They truly (many of them anyway) were paniced by 9/11, and they have never quite recovered. Plus, if we do successfully try KSM in federal court, the Bush era justification for indefinite dtention will go away, and they will loose yet another round inthe fight for the American soul.