On the subject of the civil trial of KSM, Trochilus raises a point I hadn’t considered:
Given the nature and depth of Islamo-facist enmity toward all Western institutions, including all faiths other than their own, toward all our democratic institutions, including our judicial system, and finally toward most Americans; and given their willingness to act on that hatred — who in their right mind would willingly consent to serve on such a jury?
This will be a trial watched by the entire planet. Millions of Islamist fanatics will be watching. There is a good chance that several thousands of those fanatics might decide to exact revenge on anyone involved.
Anyone who sits on that jury will have to spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulder worrying that they will be the target of a revenge killing. They will become participants in a war with no boundaries and no end.
Soldiers at least can eventually leave the battlefield behind, but for these jurors the war will follow them wherever they go. Soldiers at least know their loved ones are safe at home, but these jurors will have to worry their loved ones are also targets. Soldiers die in foxholes beside their comrades. These jurors will die in their minivans with their children.
Can we really ask any of our fellow citizens chosen by lot from the voter rolls to assume a burden greater than that we ask of our soldiers?
No doubt we will endeavor to keep the identities of the jurors secret, but this will be just one more precedent-breaking, non-standard element that will make the proceedings look like a show trial. We will also most likely have to use an unprecedented method of jury selection. We certainly won’t want to let the defense have the same level of access to the details of the jurors’ lives that we do in regular, non-political trials.
This is yet another reason why military tribunals are a better idea. Better that military officers who have pledged their lives to the defense of the Constitution should shoulder the burden of the risk involved than some 24-year-old single mother who couldn’t get out of jury duty.
I have to wonder: When he decided on a civil trial, did the President think about the ordinary people that would be swept up in these events and have their lives forever altered? What twelve citizens of Manhattan is President Obama going to condemn to living on the front lines of the long war?