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A just trial for a terrorist (Update)


Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

It is clear to me that those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks are sick and twisted individuals. Somehow, conservatives have decided that putting terrorists on trial is too something — too risky, too easy and too open to the public. So we need to do more. We need military tribunals. For some conservatives, that doesn’t sit right either. Some have argued that these terrorists do not deserve the same rights that we enjoy. They should not have a trial. They are guilty and that’s that.

I beg to differ. We have evolved a legal system over more than 250 years. Our system balances the rights of the accused versus the rights of the victim. Trials are as much about evidence as they are about process. We’ve been told by our politicians that we are a good and just people. If that is true then we should be able to have a trial in which US citizens sit on a jury, weigh the evidence and make a fair decision. In my opinion, these trials are as much about placing the guilty behind bars as they are about showing the world that eight years after the terrorist attacks we can conduct a fair and just process; not only in the eyes of the American people, but also in the eyes of the world.

Finally, on a personal note, I do not want revenge. There is nothing that a trial will do to erase the memory of that awful day. I personally do not want the death penalty for these terrorists. I would like for these guys to sit in jail and rot for decades. I would like for them to have long lives. I would like for them to be able to live long enough to understand that God is not about killing people. It doesn’t matter if it is the God of the Jews or of the Christians or of the Muslims. God is about love. God is about tolerance. God is about loving thy neighbor as thyself.

Glenn Greenwald has some additional comments about the amazing amount of cowardice that the conservatives are showing:

Understanding and Combatting Terrorism, USMC Major S.M. Grass, 1989:

Terrorism is a psychological weapon and is directed to create a general climate of fear. As one definition cogently notes, “terror is a natural phenomenon, terrorism is the conscious exploitation of it.”  Terrorism utilizes violence to coerce governments and their peopleby inducing fear.

William Josiger, Fear Factor: The Impact of Terrorism on Public Opinion in the United States and Great Britain, 2006:

At its heart terrorism is about fear. While terrorist attacks destroy, maim and kill, the intended audience for these attacks is almost always the whole body politic and the terrorist’s goal is to strike fear into their hearts.

GOP House Leader John Boehner, condemning Obama’s decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York for trial, yesterday:

The Obama Administration’s irresponsible decision to prosecute the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in New York City puts the interests of liberal special interest groups before the safety and security of the American people.

This is literally true:  the Right’s reaction to yesterday’s announcement —we’re too afraid to allow trials and due process in our country — is the textbook definition of “surrendering to terrorists.”  It’s the same fear they’ve been spewing for years.  As always, the Right’s tough-guy leaders wallow in a combination of pitiful fear and cynical manipulation of the fear of their followers.  Indeed, it’s hard to find any group of people on the globe who exude this sort of weakness and fear more than the American Right.

The Attorney General Eric Holder was on Capital Hill yesterday talking about his decision to try KSM in NYC. Rachel Maddow discusses this with Steve Simon.

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By |2009-11-19T05:10:05-04:00November 19th, 2009|Legal, Terrorism|Comments Off on A just trial for a terrorist (Update)

Obama Speaks to Muslims

I think that President Barack Obama did a great job in Cairo. He reached out without bending over.

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From Political Animal:  In his speech in Cairo this morning, President Obama early on established some credibility and goodwill with his audience. He talked about the sources of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world, heralded the culture and contributions made by Muslims throughout history, quoted the Koran, cited the burgeoning Muslim communities in the U.S., and explained his belief that he has a “responsibility” to “fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

But what arguably mattered most about the speech was the president using that credibility and goodwill to challenge Muslims and the Middle East to do more.

A rejection of anti-American attitudes:

“Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known.”

A rejection of 9/11 conspiracy theories:

“I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.”

Support for Israel:

“Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed — more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve…. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.”

Rejection of violence:

“Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.”

Promoting democracy:

“[T]here are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.”

Religious liberty:

“Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld” whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq. Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it.”

The rights of women:

“Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity “men and women” to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice.”

These weren’t rebukes or condemnations, they were a president issuing a challenge, and forging a new basis for an international relationship. It was also a reminder that Obama, no matter where he is, doesn’t talk down to his audiences, or shy away from nuance or complex ideas.

By |2009-06-04T13:10:30-04:00June 4th, 2009|Obama administration, Religion|4 Comments

Oops, I Didn't Mean "Great Whore"


I have misspoken many times in the past and I promise that I’ll do it again in the future because I’m not perfect. I do try to chose my words carefully, especially if I’m talking to someone who is recording me. It only makes sense. I have never called someone an idiot or pinhead or moron if I didn’t mean it (I try not to call anyone these names unless I’m joking. Name calling in a great way to get yourself in trouble).

So, when Pastor John Hagee called the Catholic church the “great whore,” it was clear what he meant. He arrived at this conclusion after a huge build-up. It isn’t like he just blurted out – “great whore.” No, instead, he lead up to the moment by speaking of the past sins of the Catholic church, suggesting that today’s church should be responsible for the sins of the past. Hagee started with the Inquisition and then talked about the Crusades. He then tied the Crusades to antisemitism and the hatred of the Jews. I have no idea what the Crusades have to do with antisemitism, but Hagee was on a roll. Hitler, according to Hagee, learned his hatred of the Jews through this Catholic teaching. Then he ended with the assertion that the Catholic church is the “great whore.”

Well, it looks like Pastor Hagee didn’t mean it. He was just playin’. All I can say is “yeah, right.” Hagee may not have liked the media focus or the public criticism but he meant to say exactly what he said. In order to add insult to injury, in my opinion, Hagee met with several Catholic leaders earlier and wrote a letter to William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, apologizing for his inflammatory rhetoric. Donohue has accepted his apology.

Hagee needs to go back and read that Bible that he is carrying around. He needs to open his heart and his mind when he is reading. The Catholic church has had much to answer for, but so has all of mankind because we aren’t perfect. We all fail just has Hagee has failed now.

By |2008-05-13T18:40:47-04:00May 13th, 2008|Election 2008, Religion|2 Comments
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