The terror trials in NYC

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As a near-lifelong New Yorker and a man who loves his state very much, I’m fascinated by the debate over whether the 9.11 masterminds should be tried in New York.

Those opposed to the idea are very loud and very passionate. Some of their points are valid—but their major argument is not.

Bringing the terrorists back to the scene of the tragedy is not showbiz for the Obama administration. It isn’t a particularly high security risk; it isn’t an advertisement that America is now “soft” on terrorists. In fact, what it serves as is a bright neon declaration that the United States is once again committed to justice and righteousness. That the law will have its way. That even the most heinous … the most reprehensible … the most terrifying will be treated fairly.

Those against this say, “What a load of crock! The terrorists didn’t care about justice, so why should we treat them with any compassion?” But that’s the friggin’ rub, and it kills me that so many people don’t see it. The greatest trap here—the absolute greatest—is becoming what you despise. Should we decide to treat the terrorists without humanity, then we have stopped to a horribly low and sad level. The opportunity—a unique opportunity—is here to remind the world what makes America a great and awesome place. The compassion. The honesty. The sense of right and wrong and fair.

And fair.

If these people are responsible for 9.11, they will pay. But it shouldn’t be in a secret prison, tried by a mysterious military tribunal in a distant country.

No, it should be here. In the open.

In America.

4 thoughts on “The terror trials in NYC”

  1. Jeff, I love your books and I think you’re very talented. But I think you miss the point. I believe the main issue is whether we should try these terrorists as common “criminals” or as military combatants. Should venue be vested in a military tribunal (with all of the rights and privileges of that jurisdiction) or should they face justice in a civilian oriented courtroom which has a different set of rules? Should we house these terrorists as POW’s or as ordinary convicts? Should the Geneva Convention or habeas corpus rule the day?

    I think one of the best things President Bush did during his “War on Terror” is to in fact refer to our conflict with terrorists as a “war.” That simple proclaimation completely changed U.S. policy towards terrorism. It’s a recognition that the 9/11 folks are not “criminals”. They are seeking to change our way of life using military means. They are warriors and should be treated as such.

    Trying these terrorists in a New York criminal court repudiates that crucial assertion. We are returning to thinking of terrorists as “criminals” when they are clearly so much more than that.

  2. Appreciate the sentiment, but disagree on one point. Have a good friend in law enforcement and to say it is not a high security risk is just not true. Most Americans dont/wont know about the threat this and other high profile incidents pose, but they do pose a huge threat. It is a bigtime security risk. A lot of people would like nothing more than to have a big spectacle event (read: explosion) at such a incident like this. And those people are working towards accomplishing it.

  3. Furthermore, I question the validity of trying terrorists in American courts when KSM’s comrades in the Middle East will simply be executed on the battlefield. Why not try them all? Wouldn’t that be swell and righteous?

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