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... supports Professor William Snyder's sections of National Security Law, Counterterrorism Law, and Prosecuting Terrorists at the Syracuse University College of Law.

The Debate Rages: WashPo reports KSM unlikely to be tried during Obama Admin

With the Ghailani trial now in the hands of the jury, the debate over whether and where to prosecute persons detained pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force against al Qaeda likely will intensify. We reported on a November 5 article by the Washington Post calling the delay in trying KSM "as confounding as it is damaging."  On November 9, Politic reported that Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First argues that a good time to announce new civilian court prosecutions would be in the coming days, after jurors in New York return a verdict in the case of Ahmed Ghailani.

Now, the New York Times has an article entitled: Opposition to U.S. trial likely to keep mastermind of 9/11 attacks in detention.  In it, two Times reporters assert:

The administration has concluded that it cannot put Mohammed on trial in federal court because of the opposition of lawmakers in Congress and in New York. There is also little internal support for resurrecting a military prosecution at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The latter option would alienate liberal supporters. …

The White House has made it clear that President Obama will ultimately make the decision, and a federal prosecution of Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators has not been ruled out, senior officials said. Still, they acknowledge that a trial is unlikely to happen before the next presidential election and, even then, would require a different political environment.

In the passed few days, numerous sources have reported on Attornet General Holder's comments that a decision about where to try KSM is close.  These Times reporters, however, describe that as a "stock" response that does not evidence and impening change.

The Times also notes: "But if the jury comes back with a not-guilty verdict [for Ghailani], officials said, it would be the death knell for any further federal prosecutions of Guantanamo detainees."  I believe this analysis to be correct.  At the very least, in such an event, expect the OpEd pages to explode with opinions on this issue.

The issues here are, of course, the very focus of our class and research for six years.  Maybe our class can contribute to a reasoned and principled debate on where to try terrorists if the issue now returned to the front pages.

[Today's entire NYTimes article can be read here: ]


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