Some experts believe a civilian trial for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in New York City would end up costing close to $1 billion. Others say it would make the city a target for future terrorist attacks. At the very least, most believe it would be a major inconvenience.
Those reasons are all at least partially valid, but at the end of the day, we need to hold his trial in New York City.
As for cost, it’s hard to argue the facts. The trial would cost the city $200 million a year and the trial would probably last multiple years. But, in an age of bailouts, the federal government could probably foot the cost.
In fact, they should.
While he’s being charged for a crime that took place in New York City, every American was victimized. All of our lives changed after those attacks and we should all have a little skin in this.
This columnist would be glad to mail his share of the cost to Mayor Bloomberg to offset financial burden of hosting the trial. Money should never stand in the way of the world’s greatest system of justice.
One of the common reasons to oppose this trial is the belief it would make the city a target for future to terrorist attacks.
First of all, New York City is already a target. Al Qaeda hit New York City in 2001 because it was a target. Knocking down the World Trade Center wasn’t their goal. Their goal was fear and they never stopped wanting to instill that fear, trial or no trial.
More importantly, our message to Al Qaeda should be “bring it on.”
Eight years ago, 19 hijackers boarded planes and killed 2,973 Americans. Three months ago, the best they could do was brainwash a solitary individual into putting explosives in his underwear.
The War on Terror has seriously diminished their ability to strike on the American homeland. We took the fight to their backyard and it remains there.
The idea that the trial would be an inconvenience for the city seems backwards. It would divert resources certainly, but the people of New York City should have waiting for this moment.
The second those buildings fell, their lives were forever altered and they should want the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks meet his fate on their turf. This should be personal for them.
So while the reasons not to have the KSM trial in New York City are weak, the reasons to have the trial in Manhattan are strong.
The first is closure. We shouldn’t just hold the trial in lower Manhattan; we should have it at Ground Zero. This is about justice. He should have to learn his fate where so many of our fellow Americans learned theirs.
More important than closure, however, is pride. We are the United States of America.
Let’s show the world how our justice system works. Let’s show the world we don’t need to hide behind military courts.
Let’s give KSM all the legal rights of American citizens. Let’s not even pursue the death penalty. We’re better than that. Let’s be the shining city on a hill. Let’s show mercy, even to people who didn’t show it to us. It is our values and our ideals that make us exceptional, not our military might.
We ought to put Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on trial at Ground Zero and let our singular justice system do the talking.
Let’s show our enemies we will never sink to their level. In the opinion of this columnist, there is no better way to honor those we lost on 9/11 than to stand resolute. We’re the United States of America. Let’s act like it.