See You In New York

Will the “KSM” trial in New York City showcase our magnificent criminal justice system as Barry and his supporters claim? Were the preceding terrorist trials in civilian courts a fabulous display of the genius of our criminal justice system or a dismal travesty?

Bret Stephens examines the Moussaoui case:

…Moussaoui was arrested in August 2001, and indicted that December. It would take until May 2006 before a jury would sentence him to life in prison, a single juror having spared him a death sentence. Assuming a similar time frame for the KSM trials, that means we can expect verdicts in 2015. That’s a long time to keep lower Manhattan in a perpetual state of red alert.

Yet the Moussaoui trial wasn’t merely interminable. It was also incompetent. Moussaoui did everything he could to turn it into a circus, at various times entering contradictory pleas on the view, as he put it, that “you’re allowed to lie for jihad.” Lawyers for the government were repeatedly accused of malfeasance, leading Judge Leonie Brinkema to observe at one point that “I have never seen such an egregious violation of a rule on witnesses.” The judge herself came close to dismissing the entire case, even as the Fourth Circuit had to step in to reverse one of her rulings…

And he reveals a painful, politically-incorrect truth about the New York City jury pool:

…No small number of potential New York City jurors would find KSM a more credible witness than any number of Bush administration officials—think Alberto Gonzales or Dick Cheney—who might be called to the stand…

William McGurn looks at the first World Trade Center trial:

…Andrew McCarthy has a unique perspective on the move to criminal trials. As an assistant U.S. attorney in 1993, he successfully prosecuted Omar Abdel Rahman (the “blind sheikh”) for the first bombing of the World Trade Center. Even though the cases were somewhat different—that plot was conceived, plotted and carried out on U.S. soil—Mr. McCarthy says the experience persuaded him that federal trials are a bad way of handling terror.

“At first, I was of the mind that a criminal prosecution would uphold all our high-falutin’ rhetoric about the constitution and majesty of the law,” says Mr. McCarthy. “But when you get down to the nitty gritty of a trial, you see one huge problem: The criminal justice system imposes limits on the government and gives the defendant all sorts of access to information, because we’d rather have the government lose than unfairly convict a man. You can’t take that position with an enemy who is at war with you and trying to bring that government down.”…

Ronald Cass wonders whether Holder and his advisers will be held accountable (as liberals want Bush’s advisers to be held accountable for their Iraq War decisions) if his decision backfires.

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