Tuesday, May 20, 2008

9/11 Conspirator Trials Tidbit

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal today drew my attention to a part of this court case that I didn't realize before.

Meanwhile, the press has distorted another recent Guantanamo decision. Susan Crawford, the former civilian judge who is supervising the military tribunals, dismissed the capital charges last week against one of the six al Qaeda 9/11 conspirators. Mohammed al-Qahtani was allegedly going to be the 20th
hijacker on 9/11 had he been admitted to the U.S. He was captured in late 2001.

Echoing defense attorneys, the press is calling Judge Crawford's decision a setback for the tribunals and is reporting the now-routine claim he was tortured under interrogation. But those attorneys haven't seen Judge Crawford's ruling, which is under seal. We're told the judge separated al-Qahtani on grounds that he was less central to the conspiracy than were the likes of KSM, and that being tried with the five others might have prejudiced the death-penalty case against him. In other words, her ruling shows how independent Judge Crawford and the tribunals are from Pentagon pressure.

You mean the judge can dismiss charges if they don't believe the case is strong enough? What kind of a show trial are we running here?