Let justice be done even though the heavens fall

Soon Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men allegedly involved in the World Trade Center attacks will be arriving in our state. As federal prosecutors prepare to take the first steps in their civilian case by indicting the group, President Barack Obama has given Congress the required 45 days of notice in anticipation of delivering the defendants from Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) Naval Base to Manhattan.

The move has been seen as controversial by some who cite security concerns and worry that the men who have not yet faced a courtroom, may be found innocent if guaranteed a fair trial. It would be hard to imagine a fair trial without such a possibility.

Any prosecutor faced with handling the case is going to have to inevitably confront the CIA’s enhanced interrogation methods (torture double speak).

You see our justice system in this country has no tolerance for the abuse of prisoners in any fashion, let alone an organized effort to extract information through physical and psychological pain. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed alone was water boarded more than a hundred times in a month.

The challenge here is the judicial system now takes a position that not one has really yet stood for, it believes in a fair unbiased trial based on evidence, witness testimony and the men charged in these crimes are not presumed guilty.

Held at Gitmo for the last six years, can you imagine the scene in about 45 days when the judge reads the charges against the defendants and then tells them they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?

He’ll then begin explaining the general rights they are entitled to, which ironically before that moment they haven’t been.

After breaking judicial mandates for so long, flexing the limits of our own Constitution to the breaking point, violating international treaties regarding the treatment of prisoners and under practices carried out at the condemnation of the United States Supreme Court, we must now have a just trial.

A simple explanation of the law says anything done outside of its constraints is not usable in court. The treatment of the prisoners in the case is a legal liability and I have a feeling that this trial will be as much about that as it is about finding justice for the thousands of people murdered in 2001.

The practices so aggressively carried out by the Bush Administration are now the greatest obstacle to finding justice for the grieving families.

Watching the news yesterday, a friend asks in a panicking angry voice of objection, “What if they get off?!” “Then you let them go,” I said coldly.

I sometimes wonder if people don’t understand the concept of trial – as in before judgment – the act of forming judgment, not already decided. It’s a beautiful thing.

I feel alone in many circles as a strange sort of devil’s advocate who argues for the principles of civil liberties and justice. It’s an argument that will soon be taken to the federal court house in Manhattan.

The 9/11 events that shaped our modern world so vividly are no doubt a trauma on us all, some obviously more than others. There isn’t a single person in the entire world though who hasn’t felt the ground shake since the towers fell. Governments have been toppled, decades-long conflicts still rage, a global recession and some of most sensational politics in American history have crept from the cataclysm.

These five men are accused of murdering thousands of people as the victims walked through their daily lives – men, women and children alike.

All I’m asking is for those responsible to be brought to long overdue justice. Show the world the evidence against them, let there be no doubt these men are the monsters we’ve so long been told they are.

The federal government is seeking the death penalty in the case and if so convicted, they should be put to death.

I’m glad that the “detainees” are now being treated like prisoners. I’m glad that justice is now in the immediate works.

I could care less if the crimes were prosecuted in military or civilian court, as long as the presiding judge treats the case like he would any other.

I feel the sense of our country’s moral legitimacy was stolen by our militant reaction to the 9/11 event. A few of our most sacred beliefs were betrayed for security, but perhaps with our new direction, even though just as hypocritical, may be one on the road to redemption.

The Romans had a phrase that might apply to us now, “Fiat justitia ruat caelum”- let justice be done though the heavens fall.

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