S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Yet another bizarre debate begins.

What to do, what to do?
The accused mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the United States has confessed. His statement has been released by the U.S. government, according to the Washington Post's Josh White. To quote,

In a rambling statement delivered Saturday to a closed-door military tribunal, Mohammed declared himself an enemy of the United States and claimed some responsibility for many of the major terrorist attacks on U.S. and allied targets over more than a decade. He said that he is at war with the United States and that the deaths of innocent people are an unfortunate consequence of that conflict.
Re KSM - This is not new information. What is new is that he has recently been put before a military commission. But we have long known about his involvement. To quote from the 9/11 Commission Report:
(aka Mukhtar) Pakistani; mastermind of 9/11 attacks; currently in U.S. custody."
Co-chairs Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean have reported that they were able to question KSM through interrogators well before the Commission came to its conclusions. KSM gave them a tremendous amount of information, both have said. He has just now come before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Mastermind confesses - This is the story from the New York Times: "Suspected Leader of Attacks on 9/11 Is Said to Confess," headlines a (3/15/07) story by Adam Liptak in the New York Times, with hat tip to "Smoke and Mirrors in Cuba." To quote from the NYT,
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, long said to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed to them at a military hearing held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Saturday, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon yesterday. He also acknowledged full or partial responsibility for more than 30 other terror attacks or plots.
“I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z,” he said.
In a rambling statement, Mr. Mohammed, a chief aide to Osama bin Laden, said his actions were part of a military campaign. “I’m not happy that 3,000 been killed in America,” he said in broken English. “I feel sorry even. I don’t like to kill children and the kids."
Khalid Sheikh Muhammad's statement:
"The language of war is victims."
This sentence comes from a ksm-transcript (pdf - 26 pages - at Washington Post), with hat tip to "Speaking Truth to Power from Kuwait."
How are we supposed to react to this kind of thinking? Of course there are victims in war, both the killed and the killers. The key difference is that terrorists target innocent civilians. Their "language" is abhorrant. The uniformed military tries as hard as it can to avoid "collateral damage." But the innocent and unarmed are just as dead in both cases. For me, what seems to be the key reaction is that of the families of the victims of 9/11. I did not know any of the people who died, though I feel deeply about the tragedy. But I trust what the families feel and want to have happen regarding this "mastermind" terrorist.
The story has been read very differently around the world.

  • Aljazeera's story about the confession has a slightly different tone, but is generally written as a straight news story.

  • Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo had an interesting take on the timing of the story. To quote, ". . . at Gitmo hearing and now the transcript is released by the Pentagon to get Gonzales off the front pages!"
  • "Jeralyn" at Talk Left provides some very interesting earlier material on the story: "Background on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh."
  • Mike Allen at The Politico wrote on March 8 that "Democrats Want Gitmo Prisoners Sent to U.S." To quote,
    Key House Democrats plan to insist the Pentagon shut down the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and are contemplating the relocation of many of the 385 or so remaining terrorist suspects to military brigs along the East Coast -- including Quantico, Va., and Charleston, S.C.
    . . . A senior administration official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was puzzled by the Democrats' frequent discussion of closing Guantanamo.
    "While we want to bring these guys to trial as quickly as possible, where do Democrats believe we should keep Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot?" the official asked. "Which American city will they choose to place America's most wanted terrorists?"
  • "lapin" at DailyKos
  • posted, "How long till Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Executed?"
    I submit that the acts of the US government have pushed our reality into surreality and that Mohammed's confession to dozens and dozens of plots has absolutely no meaning other than the extension of the mythology in which our government operates and the cementing of torture firmly as a component of our criminal justice system.
    Think how differently this question (about how to treat this terrorist from Pakistan) would play out if Iraq had never been invaded. We would not have lost so many thousands of our military. Imagine how different the alliance with Pakistan, the war in Afghanistan, the possible capture of Osama bin Laden and his deputy, the U.S. national debt, the 2004 and 2006 election results, and on and on. But that is history. Whatever happens, it must happen under the rule of law, not so much because of the terrorist, but because of who we are.
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