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“Guilty unless proven innocent”

Over at The Gormogons, the Czar ably articulates exactly what’s been bothering me about the trial slated for Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, et al. in New York:

“…[Khalid Shaykh Muhammad] is being given the Constitutional rights of an American just so that he can have them taken away. He is provisionally guilty until found very much guilty, and will face double jeopardy to ensure it.”

Definitely RTWT.  There is definitely something of the spectacle surrounding the whole affair.  Khalid and others are not being brought to New York so that Justice can be done, but to give the appearance that Justice is being done.  The talk of double-jeapardy and death penalties belies the fact that everyone knows he’s guilty.  He’s admitted as much.  He’s being treated as such.  He will be found so and treated as such.

But so much of the groundwork on which our justice system relies is missing.  Due process is already so devastated in this case that no sane judge or jury in the world could allow him to go to trial, much less get convicted.  As the Czar points out, he was read no rights, no evidence was gathered at the time of his arrest, and many of the personnel involved in his capture cannot or will not testify in an American court.

So why are we going through this charade?  I hope, for everyone’s sake, that this is not a cheap political stunt.  I have to confess, I wouldn’t be surprised if it work.  Some way for the administration to attempt to make good on promises that they have made and, thus far, failed to keep.

But whatever the motive, it still smacks more of spectacle than it does justice.  And I suppose it raises the question of “if a traditional jury trial is insufficient, how should the case be dealt with?”  A good question.  The easy out is to say that we screwed up in the first place by trying to treat him like a POW-except-not for all these years.  The fact of the matter is that this man has admitted to being the mastermind behind and a conspirator to the murder of thousands of Americans.

Perhaps treating him like a prisoner of war is warranted.  Give him full protections as required by the Geneva and other international conventions.  Put him in front of a Court Martial, and, if he’s found guilty, take appropriate steps to ensure that he can’t repeat his crime.1 No more bullshit “enemy combatants”, no half-assed show trial, and a much better chance for justice to be done.

1 I’m an opponent of the death penalty in almost all cases, and this is no exception. He shouldn’t be put to death both for principled reasons (state-sanctioned violence should be constrained by the same guidelines that constrain justifiable personal violence) and because in this case, killing him would probably be better for the enemy. It’s one less prisoner for us, and one more martyr for them. And that’s a trade where we definitely come out with the short end of the stick.

Posted in Politics.

3 Responses

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  1. The Czar of Muscovy says

    Many thanks for your support.

  2. The Tarquin says

    It’s definitely my pleasure, Czar. Thanks for stopping by my humble blog.

  3. Citizen Jane says

    With respect to the death penalty, I couldn’t agree more. If we as a nation are opposed to slaughter of people who cannot possibly do others (further) harm, then the government shouldn’t be allowed to do it any more than anyone else is. We harm ourselves as a nation by sanctioning death by violence for reasons of revenge.

    As for Khalid Shaykh Mohammed, it’s so nice to see him being treated like any other (accused) criminal and not some all-powerful evil dignitary who warrants or deserves special treatment.