Military prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty for six Guantánamo detainees who are to be charged with central roles in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, government officials who have been briefed on the charges said Sunday.But why let that stop us?
The officials said the charges would be announced at the Pentagon as soon as Monday and were likely to include numerous war-crimes charges against the six men, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the former Qaeda operations chief who has described himself as the mastermind of the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
A Defense Department official said prosecutors were seeking the death penalty because “if any case warrants it, it would be for individuals who were parties to a crime of that scale.” The officials spoke anonymously because no one in the government was authorized to speak about the case.
A decision to seek the death penalty would increase the international focus on the case and present new challenges to the troubled military commission system that has yet to begin a single trial.
“The system hasn’t been able to handle the less-complicated cases it has been presented with to date,” said David Glazier, a former Navy officer who is a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
“My opinion is,” said [Debra Burlingame, "whose brother Charles F. Burlingame III was the pilot of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that was crashed into the Pentagon"], “if the death of 3,000 people isn’t sufficient for a death penalty in this country, then why do we even have the death penalty?”The better question is: why do we even have a justice system, if we can't use it? Because the sad irony is: will the death penalty, in any of these cases, ever even be applied? And if it is, will it be justice?
Professor Glazier of Loyola said the military commission system was devised to avoid many of the hurdles that have slowed civilian capital cases. Still, he said, he expected intense scrutiny and criticism of such cases that could slow proceedings.Well, there's one answer. Why bog down the system with concepts like "due process" and "equal protection of the laws"? Not that jettisoning those things will be easy or, hopefully, even possible.
In any event, vigorous trial battles and appeals would probably mean that no execution would be imminent. “It certainly seems impossible to get this done by the end of the Bush administration,” Professor Glazier said.People with no experience whatsoever in warfare (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) created the torture that is now the hallmark of the "War on Terror." Now those same people, with equally no experience in the criminal justice system (none of them are lawyers, and the lawyers they hire, from Gonzales to Woo to Mukasey, are as corrupt and unethical as any to ever shame the profession), are doing to that system what they have done to national security: treating it like a means to greater power.
This is not going to end well for the country.