Monday, March 16, 2009

Tortuous prosecutions

On account of little procedural missteps like torturing the suspects, our prosecutions of the crimes of 9/11 have looked permanently stalled. Obama's DOJ is now examining a possible dodge: prosecuting KSM et al. for their previous crimes. (H/t Bashman.)
A senior Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the government is still reviewing cases, said bringing such detainees to trial on prior charges is one of many possibilities being considered. No decisions have been made.

Reviving the long-dormant cases would pose some legal hurdles - particularly a defendant's right to a speedy trial, given how long Mohammed and others have been in U.S. custody. * * *

If they are tried on older charges, not based on questioning since 9/11, prosecutors could argue that testimony or evidence regarding more recent interrogations could not be admitted into evidence. Under court rules, prosecutors are required to reveal to the defense much of what they have learned in an investigation concerning the charges a defendant faces. In past cases, such information has made its way back to terror plotters, including al-Qaida.
This might be an attractively pragmatic solution if it can be done ... a bit like the famous conviction of Al Capone for tax evasion. My sense of justice recoils a bit at the thought that 9/11 will, technically, go unpunished. But then, I see that the FBI still doesn't even list that particular crime on Osama's most-wanted poster.

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