Administration is considering trying KSM before a military tribunal at Guantanamo

Here’s something doubly amazing, both the news itself, and the fact that while I’ve been reading the Web off and on during the day, including accessing my usual sources of news such as, which is normally on top of any important news stories, I had seen nothing about it—how could such a story not be all over the Web?—until this evening when I opened the print copy of today’s New York Post. There I found out that Obama-Holder have not just decided to move the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial away from New York City; they’re thinking of junking the whole idea of trying KSM and the others as civilians and instead trying them before a military commission at Guantanamo. It appears to be a total retreat by the administration from one of the worst decisions any humans ever made. Further, it wouldn’t just mean that the 9/11 jihadists get military trials, it would mean dropping the policy of closing the Guantanamo prison, the first decision Obama made as president and the one closest his heart.

Below are three items from today’s Post that cover this development: the lead news story, the lead editorial, and a column by Richard Lowry:

The news article:

Bay what? Guantanamo eyed for 9/11 trial
Last Updated: 8:43 PM, January 30, 2010
Posted: 2:37 AM, January 30, 2010

The trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed won’t be held in lower Manhattan and could take place in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, sources said last night.

Administration officials said that no final decision had been made but that officials of the Department of Justice and the White House were working feverishly to find a venue that would be less expensive and less of a security risk than New York City.

The back-to-the-future Gitmo option was reported yesterday by Fox News and was not disputed by White House officials.

Such a move would likely bring howls of protest from liberals already frustrated that President Obama has failed to meet his deadline for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

It would also indicate that after years of attacking the Bush administration for its handling of the war on terror, Obama officials are embracing one of the most controversial aspects of it.

The administration is likely considering Gitmo because Congress is moving to cut off funding for holding the expensive trials in civilians courts.

Rep. Peter King (R-LI) has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of Justice Department funds to try Guantanamo detainees in federal civilian courts, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he would introduce a similar bill in the Senate next week.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports that wherever the terror trials are eventually held, it is virtually certain that they will not take place in New York City.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly yesterday credited Mayor Bloomberg, who spoke out against the holding the trials in New York, with spurring the Obama administration to reconsider.

“I think the president responded to, certainly, the mayor’s statement yesterday and community concerns, and it, quite frankly, gives us a little more room in the Police Department,” he said.

“The mayor’s position is the right position, and I think the mayor was the reason it was moved.

“There was a lot of concern in the community. A lot of other political leaders were worried about it, but it wasn’t until the mayor made the statement that the White House reacted. It’s the right decision.”

But the administration insisted that Justice officials had been reviewing other options well before Bloomberg changed his mind and voiced his opposition.

It was not until word leaked out that the DOJ was reconsidering that Bloomberg spoke up, one official said.

Other domestic sites mentioned for the trials include a former military base in New York Harbor that welcomes summertime picnickers and bike riders, the US Military Academy at West Point, and Stewart Air National Guard Base in upstate Newburgh.

Bloomberg said yesterday that he would not brand Obama a flip-flopper over his turnabout.

“To me, it’s a sign of maturity, strength and intellect,” Bloomberg said on WOR radio yesterday.

“If somebody comes up with a better idea—if the world changes—you change.”

Gov. Paterson said he was “elated that our concerns are being considered by the president and the federal government.”

The effort to nix New York as the venue for the “terror trial of the century” also got a boost yesterday when Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged Obama to hold the trial elsewhere.

She cited the high threat of terrorist strikes, especially for a city like New York.

“Without getting into classified details, I believe we should view the attempted Christmas Day plot as a continuation, not an end, of plots to strike the United States by al Qaeda affiliates,” she wrote.

“Moreover, New York City has been a high-priority target since at least the first World Trade Center bombing, in 1993. The trial of the most significant terrorist in custody would add to the threat.”

The editorial:

Bam starts to get it
Last Updated: 8:43 PM, January 30, 2010
Posted: 12:22 AM, January 30, 2010

President Obama may finally be getting the message: Don’t treat terrorists like common criminals, to be tried in a civilian court—particularly if that court is in New York.

First, Obama’s staff began suggesting that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his fellow butchers wouldn’t be tried in New York City, as had been planned.

It’s terrific news.

Then there came a hint that they may consider trying the thugs in a military court at Guantanamo Bay.

Even more terrific.

Gitmo, after all, is surely the most logical and appropriate place for terrorists.

In any event, though—as we’ve been saying—under no condition should the trials be in New York City, which already contributed its share, and then some, to the War on Terror … on 9/11.

No doubt, the president is beginning to see just how difficult it is to find a suitable venue for a civilian trial—anywhere. What city, after all, would want to take center ring as KSM & Co. turn the trials into a circus—and a juicy jihadi target?

(As The Post’s Carl Campanile reports today, an offer by Mayor Nicholas Valentine of upstate Newburgh to host the trials and “promote tourism” drew a, uh, hostile response from local residents.)

The White House may also be starting to glean more of the voters’ message from the recent Massachusetts election: They’re not only worried about Obama’s approach to health care, but also to terror.

Let’s face it: Thugs like KSM are at war with America. They need to be held as enemy combatants, not read their Miranda rights.

Meantime, opposition to civilian trials is also swelling in Congress—with some members looking to strip funding for them.

Whatever’s motivating White House officials, though, it’s certainly good to see them moving in the right direction.

The sooner they take that final step—ending civilian trials for terrorists for good, or at least keeping them out of New York—the better.

The Lowry column:

A sheik-up call for O’s Justice joker
Last Updated: 8:43 PM, January 30, 2010
Posted: 12:18 AM, January 30, 2010

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano must be relieved.

Over the last few weeks, Attorney General Eric Holder has passed and lapped her in the race to be the most flagrantly incompetent Obama administration official in the War on Terror.

Last year, Holder had a brainstorm: He’d remove Khalid Sheik Mohammed from Gitmo to try him in lower Manhattan, in the former shadow of the World Trade Center. Holder was thrilled by the “symbolism” of trying KSM so close to the scene of the crime.

But, eventually, New York officials and members of Congress were bound to notice the barking-mad senselessness of the entire scheme. Now that they have, plans for Holder’s trial of the century have collapsed in an unsightly heap in a matter of 24 hours.

After Mayor Bloomberg reversed himself and came out against the trial last week, the administration said it was considering other sites but still wanted a civilian trial.

Yesterday came word that it also is considering keeping KSM in Gitmo for a military commission after all, in what would be a crushing admission that its rush to shutter Gitmo was disastrously misconceived.

KSM is an enemy combatant captured on the battlefield who deserves none of the protections of the civilian court system.

The Bush administration set up a military commission system, endorsed by Congress and blessed by the Supreme Court, tailored precisely for these cases. It gave unprecedented due-process protections to detainees while protecting national security information from disclosure.

The trials would be safely held at Gitmo, a state-of-the-art facility designed for the purpose and a place where millions of innocent bystanders don’t work and live.

KSM told a military judge he was ready to confess and move on to the execution phase. Most people would consider that a neat conclusion to the matter, but not Eric Holder.

He intervened to short-circuit that process and bring KSM and four other terrorists here for trials that would cost as much as $1 billion to secure and paint an even brighter target on the city.

The Obama administration has an ideological reflex toward giving terrorists the legal rights of domestic criminal suspects and a political reflex toward rejecting all of George W. Bush’s works.

It couldn’t bring itself to admit that Gitmo and the military commissions—for all their flaws—represent a reasonable response to the hellish problem of dealing with an unreasonable enemy.

Instead, it marched straight into Holder’s Folly and now is beating a pell-mell retreat.

[end of Lowry column]

- end of initial entry -

Melissa M. writes:

Problems with staffing the KSM trial might be the reason for going back to a military tribunal. Attorney Eddie Hayes, who was a guest on The John Batchelor Show Friday, brought up two good points, one, if holding the trial outside of a major urban center, in a more easily defensible smaller town, how would one transport and house all the prosecutors, lawyers, judges, FBI, etc., for years.

The other point he made was what judge would willingly take the case, when security and body guards will be required for him, his spouse, children and grandchildren for years, maybe decades (and that’s not mentioning the concerns for the jurors).

LA replies:

Holder’s response to your criticisms would be (it’s an argument he used when he made the announcement in November): “The U.S. has the greatest criminal justice system in the world. We can handle it.”

He doesn’t care HOW those resourses are being used and wasted and damaged. He just sees that they exist, and he wants to take advantage of them for his own, anti-American purposes, just like all leftist parasites.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 30, 2010 09:34 PM | Send

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