Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chuck Schumer in 2001: Try al Qaeda bigs at military tribunals, not "Federal Lower Manhattan"

Most Americans think that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 terrorists should be tried before the Military Commissions created by Congress for that very purpose. Like me, they can't understand why President Obama and Attorney General Holder have made the irresponsible and potentially dangerous decision to try them in U.S. court in New York City instead.

Chuck Schumer, New York's senior Senator and a powerful member of leadership of the Senate Democrats, has emerged as a major defender of this incomprehensible decision.

Come to find out that Schumer sang a different tune right after the 9/11 attacks, when so many of his constituents were vaporized and the hole where the World Trade Center used to be was still smoking. Then, he said this:

There are also those prisoners of war who we have captured and will capture in Afghanistan and other countries who will receive a trial of some sort. It is clear we need to try those suspects in a forum that achieves two primary goals—two goals, I might add, that may not conflict. First, the Government must have the power to use even the most sensitive classified evidence against these suspects without compromising national security in any way, shape, or form. In addition, those who commit acts of war against the United States, particularly those who have no color of citizenship, don’t deserve the same panoply of due process rights that American citizens receive. Should Osama bin Laden be captured alive—and I imagine most Americans hope he won’t be captured alive. But if he is, it is ludicrous to suggest he should be tried in a Federal court on Center Street in Lower Manhattan.

Smart words, Chuck. Yes, it's ludicrous. And it's equally ludicrous that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Qaeda's third in command and operations chief who conceived, planned and directed the 9/11 attacks (among many others) should be tried in a Federal court in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan just steps from city hall and a few blocks from the Trade Center.

Where did that tough-minded Chuck Schumer go, and who is this foolish guy who now waves away all of those compelling arguments?

(Hat tip: Legal Insurrection)

What's your opinion? Post a comment.

1 comment:

  1. This is a nice example of an edgewise political balancing. Clearly the opinions change according to the administration and have a tendency to slowly loose its fair insight. I also belong to those who find the decision to try KSM at the civilian court absolutely ridiculous and I don't understand what motive could possibly lead to it. Elli