The unanswered question is why Holder is apparently so determined to hold the trial in such a risky environment.
Attorney-General Eric Holder’s controversial choice of a criminal court in Manhattan as the venue for the trial of the 9/11 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is attracting more criticism, and it may be that six members of the Senate, drawn from both sides, have found an ingenious method of ensuring that Holder is forced to change his mind.
They have tabled an amendment to prevent any funding for the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to New York, and this ploy would effectively prevent KSM from being present at his trial, making the entire exercise impossible. The six look determined to press ahead with their plan which will save the city an estimated $200 million in additional security costs, and of course make Manhattan a greater prestige target than it is already.
The unanswered question is why Holder is apparently so determined to hold the trial in such a risky environment. Some believe that he wants to distance his administration from the military tribunals set up originally by the Bush administration on the basis that they represent an affront to justice. However, these tribunals continue to hear cases in Guantanamo and they have a long history, dating back to the Second World War when a group of Nazi saboteurs were arrested and executed after just such a trial.
Another theory is that Holder seeks to air the issues surrounding enhanced interrogation techniques in open court, and maybe hopes to embarrass the Bush administration in doing so. KSM, of course, underwent repeated water-boarding before he began to cooperate with his inquisitors.
However, there is a danger that KSM will try and exploit his treatment, and one is obliged to speculate about an acquittal. If it remains inconceivable that any American administration could ever contemplate releasing KSM, then why hold a trial at all?