Thursday, March 29, 2007

Confession Depression

[posted by Callimachus]

One of the stories that swept over the newswires while I was off work was about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the al-Qaida terrorist who's been held in captivity by the U.S. authorities. He got up in front of a tribunal and confessed to running the entire 9/11 attacks.

He also confessed to killing Danny Pearl, supervising the Bali nightclub bombing, dispatching shoe bombers, scouting bomb targets in South Korea and Thailand, setting up attacks on oil tankers on four continents, trying to assassinate Pope John Paul II. Oh, and also the World Trade Center attacks of 1993.

Oh, and engineering the 1929 stock market crash and the Coconut Grove Nightclub fire. And personally lighting the fuze on the cannon that fired on Fort Sumter.

And all this without any real remorse or change of heart, without any apparent motivation for offering such explicit information. Reading this in straight reportage, but with the rendition and torture stories fresh in mind, and a general sense of the administration's spotty moral compass, I got that sinking feeling. Nothing buoyed me in learning such an evil genius (as KSM certainly is) had been brought to justice.

It's not just me. Here's Anthony D'Amato:

Students of the Stalinist purges of the 1930s will recall the astounding confessions made in open court by the accused persons. They had been severely tortured over weeks and months. But they showed up in court without external marks of torture. With all apparent voluntariness, they admitted subverting the Five-Year Plans that would have provided the Soviet people with necessary food items. They sabotaged factories, making sure the production lines were inefficient. They managed to import inferior metals so that Soviet tanks and automobiles would fall apart after a few months’ use. They infiltrated the Soviet Army and through dint of their persuasiveness, convinced the foot soldier that it was absurd to risk his life defending a dictatorial government. In short these accused persons, briefly in court on their way to the firing squad, took responsibility for everything that had gone wrong for the past two decades in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

So why is it today that no one draws the connection between the Soviet purge trials and the confession of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed? Mohammed said that he had been tortured by his American captors. No one contradicted his assertion. Then he went on, with a straight and sincere face, to take responsibility for a long list of crimes recently perpetrated.

Courtesy of Zenpundit, who notes D'Amato, a professor at Northwestern University Law School, "is no softheaded transnationalist or dovish liberal. Quite the contrary, when Israel bombed Saddam's nuclear reactor at Osirak back in 1982, it was Professor D'Amato, virtually alone among IL experts, who went before Congress and testified in favor of the legality of Israel's attack."

D'Amato does more than just critique this situation. He puts the administration on a ban saw and cranks it up. The conclusion:

It gives me a warm feeling that these proceedings took place on board U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the Review Tribunal made up of a Captain from the United States Navy, Lieutenant Colonels from the United States Air Force and Marine Corps, and a Gunnery Sergeant as Reporter (all names redacted). A confession before a tribunal is the best evidence of guilt, isn’t it? Whether it’s Guantanamo Bay or the Gulag Archipelago.

Zenpundit's own conclusion:

KSM should have been tried within shouting distance of 9/11 for violating the laws of war and upon conviction, hanged. Simple enough. The standards of justice there are crystal clear.

Yes, but that's so ... 1945. We're bigger than that now. Aren't we?

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