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article imageOp-Ed: Unnecessary Risks Abound for 9/11 Trials

By Johnny Simpson     Nov 17, 2009 in Crime
By holding civilian trials for 9/11 suspects in New York instead of military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, President Obama is taking a great many risks, some of which may cost him and many liberal Democrats their political careers if things go wrong.
Now headlining Drudge are two posts that profile strong dissenting opinions regarding the convening of trials for the 9/11 terror suspects in New York City: one by New York Governor David Paterson and one by conservative pundit Pat Buchanan. Both believe the President is making a number of serious mistakes in prosecuting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other co-conspirators in civilian trials in downtown Manhattan. Gov. Paterson pointed out the physical and emotional encumbrances that will be placed on ordinary New Yorkers so close to Ground Zero. Mr. Buchanan pointed out the fact that we did not return the Japanese planners of Pearl Harbor to the United States to stand trial for their act of war as criminal defendants under the full protections of the US Constitution, but in military tribunals in post-war Japan.
Gov. Paterson and Mr. Buchanan are far from alone. Former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani and former US Attorney General Mike Mukasey, who presided over the original WTC bombing trials in 1993, have been outspoken in their condemnation of holding the trials in New York City. Many politicians and pundits across the political spectrum also oppose the civilian trial format of the terror suspects in New York City, and for nearly as many reasons as there are critics. Some fear the security nightmare posed by incarcerating the prisoners in Manhattan, both inside and outside the jail where they are to be held. There are fears that the trials will become just as attractive targets for Islamist extremist suicide bombings and mass murders as the World Trade Center Towers once were for the defendants who will now be standing trial there.
Many critics fear the trials themselves could become full-blown circuses and travesties of justice. The defendants and their lawyers will no doubt use those highly public forums to condemn the trials themselves, and deflect attention and blame to the Bush Administration's contentious prosecution of the War on Terror. The suspects will also no doubt use their highly public platform to proselytize and even recruit from. There is of course the possibility, however slight, that the terror suspects will be acquitted.
I concur with all the negative critical assessments, and will throw in even more that are still very much etched in my memory but have not been covered much in the media or the blogosphere. During the first World Trade Center bombing trails, critical security information requested through the discovery process, information that would other otherwise have been withheld in a military tribunal, proved highly damaging in the years to follow: the disclosure that the CIA was tracking Osama bin Laden's cellphone, and the release of classified blueprints for the World Trade Center Towers themselves directly into Al Qaeda's hands.
Let us also not forget that there were felonious security breaches by Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman's radical defense lawyer, Lynne Stewart (who believed the Al Qaeda terrorists were "liberationists"), who in essence acted as a go-between for Sheikh Rahman and Al Qaeda and was convicted on those charges in 2005. Had Sheikh Rahman been tried in a military and not a civilian court, that critical information would never have been released. Nor would Ms. Stewart's facilitation of communications for Sheikh Rahman been possible. Also consider that a repeat of this situation is not beyond the realm of possibility, given ACLU lawyers' recent photographing of active CIA agents and showing those photographs to terror detainees at Gitmo.
In summation, we Americans face the following risks in the upcoming 9/11 trials in NYC: possible acquittal. The use of the trails as soapboxes for the 9/11 suspects to proselytize and recruit even more terrorists. The possible dissemination of classified information that could be used against us in our war on Al Qaeda. The possibilities that radical defense lawyers will act as go-betweens for the 9/11 suspects and Al Qaeda as Lynne Stewart once did. Lastly, that the 9/11 trials will make New York City once again like honey to jihadi bees, who will intensify their efforts to strike a blow for the defendants even as they stand trial nearby. And it doesn't even have to be a full-blown assault on the trial or prison facilities themselves. Any bombing, massacre or hostage crisis in the vicinity of the trial will be all the bloody statement they need to make.
In closing, the President and Attorney General Holder are taking great and unnecessary risks in bringing these trials to New York City. Yet just as President Bush's detractors held him liable for the devastation on 9/11, so too will President Obama bear any and all liability with the American people for anything that goes seriously wrong in New York during the 9/11 trials. In many ways, the wrath directed at President Obama will be even greater. All of the old illusions that we were up against anything less than an existential threat with AQ vaporized along with the World Trade Centers on 9/11. Obama can't say "Well, we didn't know."
Should President Obama and AG Holder put New York and American national security at such great and unnecessary risk and fail, knowing all that we now know about Al Qaeda and the radical Islamist extremism that is endemic to that terrorist organization's evil ideology, it will not only doom their political careers but may also destroy liberal Democrats whom the public will then perceive, once again and rightly so, that they are incapable of protecting the American people or fighting the war against radical Islamist extremist terror as it should be fought: as all-out war, and not as random crimes. Should any worst-case scenarios occur, the 2010 elections will be an even greater political slaughter in Congress than it is already sizing up to be, and Obama can kiss any shot of being re-elected in 2012 goodbye, even if unemployment is 5% by then.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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