Are we at war—or not?
For if we are at war, why is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed headed for trial in federal court in the Southern District of New York? Why is he entitled to a presumption of innocence and all of the constitutional protections of a U.S. citizen?
Is it possible we have done an injustice to this man by keeping him locked up all these years without trial? For that is what this trial implies—that he may not be guilty.
And if we must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that KSM was complicit in mass murder, by what right do we send Predators and Special Forces to kill his al-Qaida comrades wherever we find them? For none of them has been granted a fair trial.
Whether one believes Khalid is guilty as sin or pure as the driven snow, the trial is a mockery: procedure for the sake of procedure. If Khalid is guilty, he is a non-citizen enemy of the American state and should be shot just as Wehrmacht and Imperial Japanese soldiers in World War 2 were summarily shot. Pretermitting the question of his actual innocence, if he really is entitled to due process protections, then his treatment to date mandates that he be set free at once.
Americans have a strange, impractical faith in 'process.' How, for example, would Americans rid themselves of dictators like the Ceausescus? The obvious answer is to drag them out of their luxurious chambers and shoot them in the courtyard, not put on an elaborate trial to enrich and employ lawyers and bureaucrats (the outcome of which, by the way, is as predetermined as any drumhead court-martial).
Americans like to think that they have a revolutionary creed, but in fact, their own Revolution was just a power struggle between the American States and the British State. America has no real tradition of popular overthrow of the government; its one populist secession movement, the War Between The States, was crushed by the federal Union. The American people identify wholly with the US government, and a document which is nothing more than the government's corporate charter, the US Constitution, takes on almost Biblical stature. Thus, even the most ruthless enemies of the American nation are deemed entitled to scrupulous Constitutional protections. This is not noble; it is ludicrous, and suicidal.