Decision to try terror suspects long overdue

Freedom New Mexico

The military commission system to deal with captured terrorists and suspected terrorists set up by the administration and revised after a 2006 Supreme Court decision has not really been tested yet. Glitches and missteps can be expected.

Nonetheless, the decision by the Pentagon to try six of the people detained at Guantanamo Bay and accused of varying degrees of responsibility for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — even though it will test the system to the limit — is welcome and perhaps overdue.

Among those to be tried are Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, who at various times has bragged about being the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Among the others are his nephew, a man considered to have been his assistant, a man officials have labeled the “20th hijacker,” (denied entrance to the country a month before), and two al-Qaida members said to have performed intermediary and training roles.

In addition to the fact that the military commission system is untested (the only case it has been used for ended in a plea bargain), U.S. officials have made certain worldwide attention will be even more intense by asking for the death penalty for all six of those charged.

Add the fact that the CIA just last week admitted that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (KSM) was one of those subjected to “waterboarding,” a simulated-drowning technique most authorities say is torture.

It is unclear whether information coming from those interrogation systems will be admissible.
For these and other reasons the trials will not start for several months. The sooner the better.

It has simply been intolerable that the U.S. government has held so many people in captivity without sending them to trial or even filing charges.

Indefinite detention without trial is a hallmark of a totalitarian system, not a free society. The rule of law means the law applies equally to everyone, from the person accused of the most heinous crime to the highest official.

It’s overdue for a comeback.