Readers’ Matzav: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Being Tried in Federal District Court in NY


9-11-suspectsDear Editor,

It is a travesty that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is to be tried in our Federal Courts rather than a military tribunal. From a practical¬†perspective, acquittal on a technicality lurks as a possibility and a circus-like Islamic PR carnival (whatever the outcome) is all but guaranteed. But far more important is the philosophical error in our government’s thinking.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is a leader of a large army of non-uniformed combatantssoldiers who murdered 3,300 US civilians and caused trillions of dollars of property damage and financial loss. This atrocity was consistent with the declaration of war announced to the non-Muslim world by Osama bin Laden years earlier. This war against Western civilization had been going on for decades with many more dead; 9/11 was just the most successful battle and the giant exclamation mark on a declaration that our country seems unwilling or unable to take seriously. The loss of life on 9/11 is of the same magnitude as the soldiers and sailors who perished in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Is the wanton and premeditated mass murder of civilians and the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and Washington’s Pentagon not an act of war? Is it to be considered a legal matter for our courts simply because the warriors wear no uniforms, target civilians and abide no battle lines? Is it any less a war that Islamic terrorists are attacking not for wealth or resources but to eliminate all “infidels”? Our short memories and our apparent inability to face up to the reality of this type of enemy and tactic will contribute to our defeat at the hands of the Jihadists, who are shrewdly manipulating our liberal and decent legal system into yet another weapon in their growing arsenal. The government’s decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in our civilian court system is a lamentable example of just such a tactic and, sadly, will establish a pernicious precedent.

200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson shed some light on this issue (especially for those who view this decision as a matter of compliance with legal doctrine): “A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the highest virtues of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.” Our current leaders — Messrs. Obama and Holder in particular — should be paying more attention to these wise words of one of this Country’s great founding fathers.

Howard Herschberg
Lakewood, New Jersey