Where Intelligence Meets News Analysis.

The Greatest Show On Earth

Barring a UFO landing in your yard or any other corner of the earth in the coming months, you should get ready for the greatest show on earth—brought to you courtesy of the honorable Eric Holder, Jr., United States attorney-general.

The decision by the attorney-general to try alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and four others in a civilian court is indeed a head scratcher for the ages.  Mr. Holder on many occasions has since offered his reasoning, one of which was before the United States Congress.  But rather than provide me with a resolve, I’m even more perplexed by the answers provided by the AG.

The U.S. is at war, a fact to which Mr. Holder candidly subscribes.  But no matter what level of recognition he claims on this fact, his decision here says otherwise: the ramifications are lost on him.

9/11 is one of those days no soul living at the time will forget.  It is seared into memory just as one would remember a birthday.  Any individual can in precise language tell you what he/she was doing and where he/she was when the news broke.  And this assessment is just for individuals who did not lose loved ones in the carnage, so you can just imagine the daily burden of those who did.

Now, the attorney-general is forcing a whole nation and the immediate victims of this brutality to relive its horrors by bringing its architect to town—blocks away from where the twin towers collapsed.

The attorney-general claims this will show transparency.  In his own words, a trial “open to the public and open to the world.”  Open to the public, yeah; open to the world, I don’t think so.  Citizens will be allowed in the courtroom, but as Mr. Holder sure knows, cameras are not allowed in federal courts.  But the circus he has created will definitely be buzzing outside the courtroom—maybe that’s the openness to which he refers.

When any individual conscientiously orchestrates a jet airliner to plow into your military headquarters and sends another toward your national capital, it is no longer a matter of subjective criminal felony but an act of war.

And how do we try enemy combatants in an ongoing war?  Military tribunals.  Mr. Holder does not challenge the legitimacy and validity of this argument, matter-of-factly, on the same day he made the decision to send Mohammed to Manhattan, he sent accused mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, to a military tribunal.

Asked during his Congressional briefing what happens if the accused were acquitted: “Failure is not an option,” he said.  Unless Mr. Holder is God trying these terrorists in person in a Manhattan courtroom, he has no right making such a statement.  The chance of acquittal by a jury, no matter how remote, is thinkable and real.  That’s the premise of justice, right?

As a former prosecutor, Mr. Holder knows prosecutorial misconduct happens all the time.  He knows hung-juries are an entrenched landmark of the legal landscape.  He knows at times the other guys’ defense lawyers don’t simply come to the courtroom, put their feet on the table, and watch a jury convict their clients without pursuing any loophole or technicality known to man.  Yet, the AG assures us an acquittal is impossible with the lax rules of a civilian court: saying they’re just as good as the more restrictive rules of a military court in trying terrorists.  Guaranteeing an acquittal, to me, doesn’t sound like the presumption of innocence he is trying to showcase to the world.

Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post was very lucid on this point.  “Everyone knows that whatever the outcome of the trial, KSM will never walk free,” he wrote.  “He will spend the rest of his natural life in U.S. custody. Which makes the proceedings a farcical show trial from the very beginning.”

But I will tell you what Mr. Holder is banking on.  In an interview on NewsHour, the AG told Jim Lehrer the possibility of getting a detached jury factored in his decision-making.  Now, if you don’t think that’s cockamamie, you surely have your head buried under some sand somewhere.  A detached jury in New York?  It’s been almost a decade and you tell me there is still a citizen out there in New York City who lives the daily horror of 9/11, who can and will in good spirit send Mohammed home without wanting to punch him in the face?  Give me a break.

And the AG knows this, which is why for the life of me I can’t understand why put up such a show in the first place.  He did mention this was the “trial of the century,” and as such, maybe felt a trial of such importance demanded the greatest show on earth.

The people of the United States did not elect Mr. Eric Holder.  This decision was very well above his pay grade.  By stating he consulted with his wife and his brother who is a Port Authority police officer, and not the president of the United States before making this decision, the AG showed acute shortsightedness.

Not only has he brought unnecessary expense on the people of New York City, he has also gravely endangered their lives.  New York City is the greatest stage on earth to put up a show.  And while Mr. Holder is setting up his, he scoffs the possibility that terrorists could also be planning theirs.  But the heart of the matter remains this: terrorists only have to get it right once, while law enforcement has to be right all the time.  If crashers could get into the most secured building on earth, the White House, how can he ascertain the security of a vast area like New York City?

In the end I cannot overly fault Mr. Holder for this baffling act.  The buck stops with Mr. Obama and he should bear any damning fallout from a bad decision as this.

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