The mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, as well as four of his other conspirators, will be tried in New York City. The Obama administration has decided to try them in criminal court rather than by a military tribunal in Guantanamo. Do you think this is a good idea?
Mohammed has made clear that he looks to spin an inspiring tale of martyrdom in the cause of God and a victory over a mighty infidel power. At a 2007 military tribunal hearing, he made a 31-point written statement affirming that he was “responsible for the Sept. 11 operation, from A to Z,” that he had “personally decapitated with my blessed right hand” Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and that he had planned future attacks with biological and radiological weapons on behalf of Muslims everywhere “oppressed by America.”
In counterpoint, Mohammed’s attorneys are likely to oppose their client’s guilty plea with evidence of his mistreatment during three years in CIA secret prisons. Interrogators subjected Mohammed 183 times to waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning that until then was universally described as torture by the U.S. and allied governments. Human rights lawyers have asserted that the abuse taints any subsequent confession.