From an editorial Wednesday in the Kansas City Star:
Twelve years after misguided religious sycophants murdered nearly 3,000 people, costly ripple effects still can be seen all over the world. A primary place they are evident is in a military courtroom in Guantanamo Bay.
There the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), and several other suspects move slowly toward a trial.
The technical ins and outs of pretrial maneuverings get little attention, but they are important because they reveal the American commitment to the rule of law.
The military commission that was convened to try the charges against KSM and others has heard more than 40 hours of testimony from more than a dozen witnesses. The commission and the military judge, Col. James Pohl, have dealt with more than 100 substantive motions.
Why is all of this taking so long and why is it necessary? Five persons not just KSM are being tried in a single case involving the murder of nearly 3,000 individuals. Chief prosecutor Mark Martins calls this the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history.
Martins describes members of the five defense teams as zealous, effective and competent. That means there are lawyers making sure their clients are treated fairly. That also takes time.
The extended nature of these proceedings is emotionally draining for families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001.
In some countries, of course, a matter of this sort would have ended quickly with the summary execution of the suspects. Americans may argue over whether KSM and the others should be tried in military or civil courts, but the fact they are being afforded a trial at all with aggressive defense attorneys is evidence that the American people take the rule of law and the right to a fair trial seriously.
Its to our nations credit that in much of our response we have remembered who we are. In that sense, the terrorists lost.
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