Dear Mr. Holder
0 comment Sunday, June 22, 2014 |

Dear Mr. Holder,
I watched you testify yesterday before Congress. You were there to defend your decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ("KSM") and his four co-defendants in one civilian trial in Manhattan.
But you completely failed to address your critics' concerns. I hope this was deliberate and not from a deficit in your intellect.
First, you said we can safely and securely prosecute KSM and his co-defendants in one big civilian trial because we've prosecuted criminals in federal courts for years. "We know can do it because we've done it before," so goes your argument.
But we have not done it before. No prior attack on American soil even approaches the carnage and terror of 911. To claim that any other federal criminal trial could compare to this one is not only specious, it's frighteningly insensitive.
Not a single 911 terrorist has been tried on the issue of guilt or innocence in a civilian court. Much less have we tried five 911 terrorists all together, in the same trial in a civilian court in Manhattan.
Next, you asserted that we can protect classified information under the Classified Information Procedures Act ("CIPA"). Not so fast, Mr. Holder.
I read your Department's summary of the CIPA, and I am not at all convinced. This provision stood out in particular:
CIPA is a procedural statute; it neither adds to nor detracts from the substantive rights of the defendant or the discoery[sic] obligations of the government. Rather, the procedure for making these determinations is different in that it balances the right of a criminal defendant with the right of the sovereign to know in advance of a potential threat from a criminal prosecution to its national security. (emph. added)
Next, you claimed with a straight face that KSM will have "no more of a platform to spew his hateful ideology in federal court than he would have in a military commission."
This statement defies all logic.
Then you pointed out that KSM ranted in a military commission last year. His statements were "heavily covered in the media," you said, "yet few complained at that time that his rants threatened the fabric of our democracy."
No one is making such a histrionic complaint today, Mr. Holder.
Rather, we are complaining that a civilian trial will give KSM and the other four terrorists a microphone to the world. Al Jazeera will broadcast KSM's every utterance. A more revolting spectacle is hard to imagine.
You are either very stupid or very shrewd. My guess is the latter. Since you cannot logically defend your decision, you deliberately ignore the cogent arguments against a civilian trial or stand them on their head.
You said, for instance, "I'm not scared of what KSM has to say at trial, and no one else needs to be afraid, either."
Where did that come from?
No one is "scared" of what KSM will say at trial.
We're scared for the jurors, though, who will have to be sequestered, and guarded at all times. How long should they be guarded after the trial, Mr. Holder?
We're scared for the prosecutors who will need round-the-clock security during the trial and for years afterward.
We're scared for the witnesses; their names will surely be reported by the media without regard to their safety. Confidential informants may be confidential no more.
And what of the victims, forced to recount their terror, forced to re-live those horrifying moments, and subjected to rigorous cross-examination, on the world stage.
More importantly, we're scared because the Obama Administration has foolishly decided that terrorists who attack New Yorkers and people on airplanes get more rights than if they attack a military target on foreign soil. What perversity.
As Lindsay Graham rightly queried, must our soldiers now Mirandize every enemy upon capture? Should they stop firing in the middle of battle to make sure a piece of evidence remains admissible by a proper chain of custody?
Because after all, the soldier in battle cannot know whether his prisoner will be tried in civilian court or by a military tribunal. God forbid we botch a capture or the collection of evidence and allow an enemy to go free.
Further, we are appalled that you would suggest the eight-year delay in trying these terrorists is the fault of the prior administration. "For eight years, justice has been delayed for the victims of the 9/11 attacks," you said. "No longer. No more delays. It is time, it is past time, to act."
What a bunch of hooey that is, sir. Defense lawyers ran the constitutionality of military tribunals up and down the appellate flag pole for years, as you well know. Indeed, a few of these lawyers now work for you. Legal maneuverings are to blame for the delays, not the Bush Administration.
Finally, in a dramatic flourish, you said, "We need not cower in the face of this enemy." But we are not so easily fooled by your attempt to recast the arguments and paint your detractors as unpatriotic cowards.
To say we are cowering "in the face of this enemy" because we argue against a federal trial is sophistic. Or manipulative. I'm not sure which is worse.
No, we are cowering in the face of this Administration's ineptness, and your own.

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