Video: Holder says he’ll seek the death penalty for 9/11 plotters
posted at 12:55 pm on November 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
This is apparently the comfort that Barack Obama wants to offer America in exchange for turning the adjudication of terrorists into the next OJ trial. Greg Hengler captures the moment for Townhall, but even this is offered in a defensive manner by Attorney General Eric Holder. He’s answering questions about the seriousness in which the Obama administration views Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators of the worst attack on American soil — an attack which most Americans saw as an act of war by a foreign entity, not as a crime to be prosecuted in the same courts that protect American liberty:
Sorry, but that hardly conveys a sense of seriousness. These men are enemies of the US, not citizens or residents who committed a few murders. They don’t belong in a courtroom — they belong in a military tribunal, and at the end of a rope afterwards. KSM didn’t commit his “crime” in the US, after all; he committed it abroad, outside of the normal jurisdiction of the American court system.
Holder says he seeks justice for the families of the victims. Some of the families may want a spectacle of a trial in which KSM and his cohorts get to inveigh against the US and its people and call millions to jihad through the US media. That doesn’t seem like justice to many of us in any sense, however. The military tribunals twice authorized by Congress would have given KSM and the rest of the jihadists a chance to challenge the evidence while keeping American intelligence safe from exposure. Andy McCarthy, who successfully prosecuted the Blind Sheikh for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, wonders whether exposure isn’t what Holder wants anyway:
This summer, I theorized that Attorney General Eric Holder — and his boss — had a hidden agenda in ordering a re-investigation of the CIA for six-year-old alleged interrogation excesses that had already been scrutinized by non-partisan DOJ prosecutors who had found no basis for prosecution. The continuing investigations of Bush-era counterterrorism policies (i.e., the policies that kept us safe from more domestic terror attacks), coupled with the Holder Justice Department’s obsession to disclose classified national-defense information from that period, enable Holder to give the hard Left the “reckoning” that he and Obama promised during the 2008 campaign. It would be too politically explosive for Obama/Holder to do the dirty work of charging Bush administration officials; but as new revelations from investigations and declassifications are churned out, Leftist lawyers use them to urge European and international tribunals to bring “torture” and “war crimes” indictments. Thus, administration cooperation gives Obama’s base the reckoning it demands but Obama gets to deny responsibility for any actual prosecutions.
Today’s announcement that KSM and other top al-Qaeda terrorists will be transferred to Manhattan federal court for civilian trials neatly fits this hidden agenda. Nothing results in more disclosures of government intelligence than civilian trials. They are a banquet of information, not just at the discovery stage but in the trial process itself, where witnesses — intelligence sources — must expose themselves and their secrets.
If justice is what the Obama administration wanted, it had a much better instrument at hand — one they’re still using with other Gitmo detainees. That makes Andy’s argument pretty compelling.