KSM and the Deconstruction of the American Judicial System


Tim Gungoll

By executive decision KSM will be turned over to the American judicial system and given the full panoply of rights afforded the American citizen. This decision has the likely potential to either undermine the American judicial system or set a heinous murderer free. KSM confessed to masterminding the 9/11 attacks and numerous other terrorist attacks and plots after being water-boarded 183 times. This confession certainly was given under duress. If an American citizen confessed under these circumstances, the confession would be suppressed. The circumstances of his arrest by Pakistani’s could lead to further grounds for suppression.

The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution offer many protections to American citizens that are not authorized for war criminals and terrorists. A military tribunal would not have to honor all of the protections that are afforded to American citizens. President George W. Bush recognized this and began the processes of a military trial for KSM because he did not believe he deserved the same rights as an American citizen. President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, intervened in the process that had begun at Gitmo and ordered that KSM be given the rights that every American citizen enjoys by having a civilian trial in New York City. After numerous protests, the White House has just ordered that the trial be moved from New York City.

Why is the President directing the trial from the White House if KSM is to be treated the same as an American citizen? The proper process would be to charge him in District Court in New York and file a motion for a change of venue. This decision should be in a Judge’s hands, not the White House’s if the trial is to be legitimate; this brings me to my point. The Judge assigned to this case is being put in a horrible position that will likely ruin his career. If he follows the law and suppresses most of the evidence, the public outrage would destroy him. On the other hand, if he ignores our laws and allows evidence to be presented that should be suppressed, he or she undermines the American judicial system. Why put the American judicial system on trial in this way? The only reasons I can think of are that either the White House wants to weaken the judicial branch of government by holding a kangaroo court where constitutional protections are ignored, or the White House wants the Court to follow the law and suppress the evidence against KSM so that it has one more opportunity to blame George W. Bush for the failings of social justice in America when KSM is freed for lack of admissible evidence.