Listening to the chatter about this decision on the Sunday talk shows, it's clear that discussion on this decision revolves around several fronts: the circus-like atmosphere it will create, the increased potential for a terrorist attack to New York, and the bounty of classified information that such a trial will afford the terrorist community.
First consider the circus that the KSM trial will be. It will make the O. J. Simpson trial of fourteen years ago look mild by comparison. If you just consider the O.J. trial as an example, you can assume that with KSM, the drama will begin from the moment he is moved from Guantanamo. In an equivalent showing to the O.J. slow-speed car chase, will we have to watch the transport of KSM as they drive him through the streets of New York to his new federal cell? When Bernie Madoff was driven to the courtroom, the television cameras were right there for every stoplight and every left turn.
It will only get worse from there. The O.J. trial dominated television for eight months. the KSM trial will certainly do the same. Will the there be television cameras in the courtroom? The prosecutors and defense attorneys will all become celebrities, books will follow. The judge will become a household name. And what of the risks to all of their families? Any attempt to keep identities secret would be short lived.
Remember the O.J. t-shirt vendors? The people holding posters and signs? The satellite trucks and media talking heads at every turn?
Multiply that by 2,819 and you'll get an idea what the KSM circus will be.
By my estimation, this will all begin to unfurl as the 2010 elections heat up; what a bounty for Republican candidates to use in their campaigns.
Mayor Bloomberg says that New York can handle such a trial. Via Politico:
“I support the Obama Administration’s decision to prosecute 9/11 terrorists here,” Bloomberg said. “It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered. We have hosted terrorism trials before, including the trial of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.”
Bloomberg expressed no concerned that the trial will make the city a bigger target for terrorists.
“I have great confidence that the NYPD, with federal authorities, will handle security expertly. The NYPD is the best police department in the world and it has experience dealing with high-profile terrorism suspects and any logistical issues that may come up during the trials,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg is concerned, and rightly so, with the security issue. While it's true that New York has been increasing their terrorist detection threats over the past eight years, why on earth should the citizens of New York have to deal with such a threat at all? Haven't they been through enough? The city was outraged at the insensitivity of the Air Force One flyover for a photo op in April of this year. What in the world will come out of Pandora's box with KSM in town?
With regard to the issue of classified information, KSM will certainly request and be entitled to receive documents and information about the government's case against him. He and his attorneys will have access to hundreds of classified documents which will be a bonanza to the jihadists waiting in the wings. To assume that the information won't get leaked or transmitted is naive.
Jennifer Rubin is correct. This is an incredibly mind-numbing decision. Poor taste, poor leadership, and poor management. KSM should be left to the military commissions and there is no good reason why he shouldn't be. This decision seems to indicate that military commissions are incapable, which in itself is an insult.
The final insult that Attorney General heaps upon us with this news is that he made this decision on his own. Are we to believe for one millisecond that Obama wasn't involved in this? That Holder unilaterally made a decision that means political suicide for his boss? If so, expect Holder to go under the bus soon.
I'm betting you won't see that.