By Carol Costello and Ronni Berke
Should alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed be tried in a civilian court?
He’s been linked to a virtual smorgasbord of terror crimes, among them: September 11th, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1995 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, and the gruesome killing of journalist Daniel Pearl.
Critics question the decision of Attorney General Eric Holder, saying it gives this “enemy combatant” the same rights as an American citizen. “This is a perversion of the justice system,” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said.
In a hearing Wednesday, lawmakers grilled Holder, questioning whether America is growing weak in the war on terror. “I suspect our enemies and friends must be wondering what's going on in our heads,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Wondering, he said: “are they serious about this effort?”
Holder shot back: “We are at war and will use all tools … to win. We will not cower in the face of this enemy.”
But in a WNYC radio interview, former 9/11 Commission member, Republican Tom Kean, also expressed concern that Mohammed would use the trial as a platform to entice followers. “He wants to be Che Guevara ... I worry a little bit that we’re giving him that forum.”
Others say the American judicial system is best suited for such cases. “What would they prefer we do? Execute these people without a trial?” said Karen Greenberg, the executive director of NYU’s Center on Law & Security. Besides, she says, military commissions have had little success. Only three individuals have been tried in seven years – compared to more than 300 others prosecuted successfully in civilian courts.
Just Sayin’ – Is it weakness to try terrorists in civilian court?
Filed under: Just Sayin'
Welcome to the American Morning blog where you can get daily news updates from American Morning's reporters and producers. Join us for "the most news in the morning," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. ET, only on CNN.