9/11 Five lawyers: Trial will become their platform to the world
posted at 10:12 am on November 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
But hey, don’t worry. Eric Holder is confident that a federal judge can keep them in line — because terrorists are so used to playing by the rules:
The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said Sunday.
Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but “would explain what happened and why they did it.”
The U.S. Justice Department announced earlier this month that Ali and four other men accused of murdering nearly 3,000 people in the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. will face a civilian federal trial just blocks from the site of the destroyed World Trade Center.
Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, is a nephew of professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain “their assessment of American foreign policy,” Fenstermaker said. “Their assessment is negative,” he said.
Uh, thanks for clarifying that, genius.
Meanwhile, the DoJ continues to give us the Chip Diller “All is well” spin:
Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said Sunday that while the men may attempt to use the trial to express their views, “we have full confidence in the ability of the courts and in particular the federal judge who may preside over the trial to ensure that the proceeding is conducted appropriately and with minimal disruption, as federal courts have done in the past.”
Exactly. Just like they did with … Zacarias Moussaoui. And in that case, which turned into a media circus, with Moussaoui grandstanding as often as possible and using the trial as a platform for his propaganda, the DoJ and the court only had one defendant. This will have five, and at least one (KSM) with slightly more on the ball than Moussaoui, who was a little too screwy even for al-Qaeda, according to the 9/11 Commission.
Speaking of Chip Diller moments, remember this scene? The stampeding hordes will look like a Sunday stroll compared to the media crush coming to the Big Apple for this trial:
Update: Dave Feigel at Slate makes the case that anyone who may have to appear in a federal court facing criminal charges should be opposed to this decision — entirely for their own self-interest:
In an idealized view, our judicial system is insulated from the ribald passions of politics. In reality, those passions suffuse the criminal justice system, and no matter how compelling the case for suppressing evidence that would actually effect the trial might be, given the politics at play, there is no judge in the country who will seriously endanger the prosecution. Instead, with the defense motions duly denied, the case will proceed to trial, and then (as no jury in the country is going to acquit KSM) to conviction and a series of appeals. And that’s where the ultimate effect of a vigorous defense of KSM gets really grim.
At each stage of the appellate process, a higher court will countenance the cowardly decisions made by the trial judge, ennobling them with the unfortunate force of precedent. The judicial refusal to consider KSM’s years of quasi-legal military detention as a violation of his right to a speedy trial will erode that already crippled constitutional concept. The denial of the venue motion will raise the bar even higher for defendants looking to escape from damning pretrial publicity. Ever deferential to the trial court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will affirm dozens of decisions that redact and restrict the disclosure of secret documents, prompting the government to be ever more expansive in invoking claims of national security and emboldening other judges to withhold critical evidence from future defendants. Finally, the twisted logic required to disentangle KSM’s initial torture from his subsequent “clean team” statements will provide a blueprint for the government, giving them the prize they’ve been after all this time—a legal way both to torture and to prosecute.
This is why war criminals get tried in military tribunals, and American residents get tried in court.