The Wall Street Journal took on apologists for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) today, saying:
These are not ordinary crimes. "For sure, I’m American enemies," said KSM in his broken English. "When we made any war against America we are jackals fighting in the nights. . . . the language of the war are killing." The proper venue to address his mass crimes against humanity is not some civilian jurisdiction. Terror cases committed as acts of war, by their very nature, require a separate judicial process.
Yet now anti-antiterror activists are attempting to make the process a referendum on the Bush Presidency or "torture" or whatever. Purportedly the tribunals are illegitimate because they do not afford every last Miranda right or due-process safeguard of the civilian courts. The key and appropriate distinction is that foreign terrorists are not entitled to the protections of the U.S. Constitution. They also violated the laws of war — for example, by deliberately targeting civilians. International law has always held that such people deserve fewer legal protections, much less those of civilian defendants.
The ultimate purpose of the tribunals is to administer justice. It is a strange worldview that considers such tribunals and the death penalty inappropriate for the murders of 2,972 people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and hundreds more world-wide. A society that would not tender justice to a human butcher like KSM is not serious about defending itself.
Ed Morrissey summarizes matters thusly:
It should be remembered that KSM wanted to see the US collapse. His organization, al-Qaeda, wants to eliminate court systems based on the rule of law and have them replaced by shari’a courts based on the whims of radical Muslim imams. Given that and the fact that we didn’t arrest him in Hoboken but captured him abroad while plotting even more acts of war and terrorism against the US, the notion that he deserves a day in an American civilian court insults both our system of justice and the memory of the thousands of people KSM killed.
Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have all settled on the current military tribunal system, which gives KSM a lot more justice than he deserves. It has more protections and evidentiary restrictions than the International Criminal Court, as the WSJ notes. It beats what KSM really deserves as a consequence of his unlawful combatant status under the circumstances — a single pellet of lead in the brainpan.
There is wisdom in both of these articles. Those who want to split legal hairs and fabricate nuances of our Constitutional principles in order to defend the undefendable are frivolous, foolish people with a distorted view of what it will take for freedom and democracy to continue to thrive in the 21st century.
When a portion of justice is finally served upon Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the world will be a better place for it.