Commentary Magazine


Topic: Foley Square

The True Administration of Justice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government

About an hour ago I was holding an umbrella against the wind and rain, in the outer skirts of the crowd that had gathered on Foley Square, Manhattan, to protest Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s impending civil trial. Judging by how much space had been barricaded, I’d say the city must have expected a bigger turnout. Doubtless, the weather deterred many would-be attendees. But the 300-400 people who had shown up were determined and righteously angry—at the president’s and attorney general’s measly arguments for extending to the 9/11 mastermind the same legal privileges of American citizens; at the travesty of justice that his civil trial would entail; and at the cheap rhetorical shots through which the administration is dismissing the critics of its decision.

Several passionate speakers shared the podium, among them close relatives of 9/11 victims and a surviving firefighter from the first-response teams dispatched to the World Trade Center. They all voiced their disgust at how the administration is handling KSM with gloves of moral priggishness. And they also urged the demonstrators to leave no political stone unturned and to buttonhole their representatives until they take responsibility for this disgrace.

It was fitting that the rally stirred at the feet of the New York State Supreme Courthouse, whose Corinthian columns underscore the engraving “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government.” I wonder what George Washington, who wrote those words to Attorney General Edmund Randolph on September 28, 1789, would think of the kind of trial our current president and attorney general have in store for KSM and of the kind of justice that trial will beget. What is anyone to make of a civil trial whose outcome, whatever it is, will not determine whether the defendant is to be freed and exonerated? I, for one, would not think it civil at all, or just. And neither would the protesters on Foley Square today.  Some photographs from the rally:











About an hour ago I was holding an umbrella against the wind and rain, in the outer skirts of the crowd that had gathered on Foley Square, Manhattan, to protest Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s impending civil trial. Judging by how much space had been barricaded, I’d say the city must have expected a bigger turnout. Doubtless, the weather deterred many would-be attendees. But the 300-400 people who had shown up were determined and righteously angry—at the president’s and attorney general’s measly arguments for extending to the 9/11 mastermind the same legal privileges of American citizens; at the travesty of justice that his civil trial would entail; and at the cheap rhetorical shots through which the administration is dismissing the critics of its decision.

Several passionate speakers shared the podium, among them close relatives of 9/11 victims and a surviving firefighter from the first-response teams dispatched to the World Trade Center. They all voiced their disgust at how the administration is handling KSM with gloves of moral priggishness. And they also urged the demonstrators to leave no political stone unturned and to buttonhole their representatives until they take responsibility for this disgrace.

It was fitting that the rally stirred at the feet of the New York State Supreme Courthouse, whose Corinthian columns underscore the engraving “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government.” I wonder what George Washington, who wrote those words to Attorney General Edmund Randolph on September 28, 1789, would think of the kind of trial our current president and attorney general have in store for KSM and of the kind of justice that trial will beget. What is anyone to make of a civil trial whose outcome, whatever it is, will not determine whether the defendant is to be freed and exonerated? I, for one, would not think it civil at all, or just. And neither would the protesters on Foley Square today.  Some photographs from the rally:











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Where Do They Stand?

The 9/11 Coalition to Never Forget is holding a rally in Foley Square in New York City today to protest the Obama administration’s decision to try KSM and his fellow 9/11 terrorists in a civilian court. A group of Hollywood stars including Robert Duval, Jon Voight, and Brian Dennehy have signed a letter, which reads:

Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 mastermind and four other terrorists in a civilian court, rather than by the military justice system, should not be allowed to remain without challenge. Not only does it put the national security of the United States of America at risk, but it is a travesty of our justice system. It brings additional heartache to the families and friends of the 9/11 victims, the first responders, and the concerned citizens of New York whose lives were changed forever.

This is not just a New York tragedy, but a terrorist threat to our country and freedom loving people around the world. It provides a platform for these terrorists to spew their propaganda and hatred to the world from a courthouse just blocks from Ground Zero.

We stand with 9/11 families, New York City’s first responders and the U.S. military who will be forced to cope with the consequences of this dangerous decision if it is not reversed.

Perhaps congressmen and senators will pay attention and consider what they might do to reverse the administration’s appalling decision. Andy McCarthy suggests:

If Congress does not want the war criminals in the war it has authorized swaddled in the Bill of Rights and given the Manhattan pulpit they seek, the solution is very simple: Congress can direct that those who fit the definition of “enemy combatants” — which was spelled out in Section 948a of the 2006 Military Commissions Act — must be tried by military commission for any war crimes. That is, Congress can divest the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear these cases. Furthermore, Congress can make its will emphatically clear by denying appropriations for the transfer of detainees into the U.S. and for the trial of detainees in the civilian federal courts.

Really, if lawmakers do nothing, they are in effect ratifying Holder’s decision and deserve to be held accountable by the voters.

The 9/11 Coalition to Never Forget is holding a rally in Foley Square in New York City today to protest the Obama administration’s decision to try KSM and his fellow 9/11 terrorists in a civilian court. A group of Hollywood stars including Robert Duval, Jon Voight, and Brian Dennehy have signed a letter, which reads:

Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 mastermind and four other terrorists in a civilian court, rather than by the military justice system, should not be allowed to remain without challenge. Not only does it put the national security of the United States of America at risk, but it is a travesty of our justice system. It brings additional heartache to the families and friends of the 9/11 victims, the first responders, and the concerned citizens of New York whose lives were changed forever.

This is not just a New York tragedy, but a terrorist threat to our country and freedom loving people around the world. It provides a platform for these terrorists to spew their propaganda and hatred to the world from a courthouse just blocks from Ground Zero.

We stand with 9/11 families, New York City’s first responders and the U.S. military who will be forced to cope with the consequences of this dangerous decision if it is not reversed.

Perhaps congressmen and senators will pay attention and consider what they might do to reverse the administration’s appalling decision. Andy McCarthy suggests:

If Congress does not want the war criminals in the war it has authorized swaddled in the Bill of Rights and given the Manhattan pulpit they seek, the solution is very simple: Congress can direct that those who fit the definition of “enemy combatants” — which was spelled out in Section 948a of the 2006 Military Commissions Act — must be tried by military commission for any war crimes. That is, Congress can divest the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear these cases. Furthermore, Congress can make its will emphatically clear by denying appropriations for the transfer of detainees into the U.S. and for the trial of detainees in the civilian federal courts.

Really, if lawmakers do nothing, they are in effect ratifying Holder’s decision and deserve to be held accountable by the voters.

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