Jim Moran: Daniel Pearl's family is un-American

That’s certainly the conclusion one can draw from two stories over the last couple of days.  Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), who pushed Barack Obama to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the US for criminal trials, says that criticism of the decision is “un-American”:

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) has strong words for the Republicans opposing Attorney General Eric Holder’s plan to bring five 9/11 suspects to New York City to face trial.

“They see this as an opportunity to demagogue,” he said. “They will seize on any opportunity to do that, and that means they’ll even take a stand that’s un-American.”

“It’s un-American to hold anyone indefinitely without trial,” Moran added. “It’s against our principles as a nation.”

Maybe Moran missed this story from The Hill.  The family of journalist Daniel Pearl, murdered and beheaded by none other than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed himself, took that same “un-American” stand that Moran blasted:

The family of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl expressed disappointment with the Obama administration’s decision to try the professed killer of their son, alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a civilian court. …

“We are sorry to learn of the Justice Department decision to try KSM in a NYC Federal Court.

We are respectful of the legal process, but believe that giving confessed terrorists a worldwide platform to publicize their ideology sends the wrong message to potential terrorists, inviting them in essence, to resort to violence and cruelty in order to gain publicity.

We believe that justice is better served if the trial of KSM, the confessed murderer of Daniel Pearl, be held in closed session.”

It’s actually rather amusing to see someone complaining about demagoguery in one breath and accusing his critics of acting “un-American” in the next.

Apart from that, what’s really striking about the statement is the abject stupidity of it.  Congress authorized military tribunals or commissions to adjudicate the cases of those captured as war criminals, which means they would have had an opportunity to challenge the government case in the same setting America has always used for war criminals — military tribunals.  Moran seems to forget that the Nuremberg trials were in fact conducted by the military, not by American civil courts, and no one has seriously suggested that those didn’t work as intended.  In fact, they’re usually the standard by which other efforts are measured.

Jim Geraghty notes that this did not escape the notice of Moran’s challenger, Matthew Berry:

“It is wrong for Congressman Moran to question the patriotism of the millions of Americans who believe that terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried by military commissions rather than in civilian courtrooms. Furthermore, Congressman Moran’s comment reflects a basic ignorance of American history.  Military commissions were used to try war crimes during the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War II. The use of a military commission to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would have been entirely in keeping with American history and tradition.”

Was Barack Obama un-American when he endorsed military tribunals for KSM in 2006?

Update: Some irony-challenged commenters are objecting to the headline.  No, Moran did not specifically call the Pearls un-American, but he called anyone who objected to criminal trials un-American.  I’m pointing out the demagoguery and applying the Moran standard in a manner that should embarrass Moran, but probably won’t.  And for those who didn’t get it, try reading the first sentence of the post.