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Ruth Marcus going rogue

My normally mild-mannered colleague Ruth Marcus has gone rogue about my recent column on Eric Holder’s decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other Sept. 11 conspirators in Manhattan. She makes a number of sincere but flimsy arguments that deserve a response.

But let me start by expressing concerns about Marcus’s disturbingly inconsistent commitment to equality before the law. In her post, Marcus refers to Mohammed as the “Sept. 11 mastermind.” Shouldn’t that be “alleged Sept. 11 mastermind?” It is Holder’s intention, after all, to give him the full range of constitutional protections -- just like any American citizen facing trial. Why is Marcus so insensitive to his rights? She goes on to assure us that Mohammed will not gain a platform for his Islamist views because an “experienced federal judge” can shut him up in court. But why should this defendant be denied the right to speak fully in his own defense? Should the Marcus gag rule apply to all defendants in federal court fighting for their lives? Further, Marcus asserts that even if Mohammed is let off by a jury of his peers -- well, preferably a jury of non-terrorist American citizens -- he will be “preventively detained” for the rest of his life anyway. Does she want to predetermine the outcome of all federal trials?

Marcus, of course, is not alone. Yesterday, President Obama declared in an interview that Americans won’t find Holder’s decision about Mohammed “offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.” Is it customary for a president to announce the outcome of a federal prosecution before it reaches court? And didn’t he just taint the entire national jury pool by declaring the defendants guilty on television? In his Senate testimony yesterday, Eric Holder declared that “failure is not an option” in the New York prosecution. But that isn’t the way federal prosecutions work, is it? Failure is always an option.

Marcus, Obama and Holder are forced into these contortions because they don’t really believe the authors of Sept. 11 should be treated exactly like an American citizen facing trial. They don’t really want the rule of law for Mohammed and crew. They want the appearance of the rule of law. They want a free trial -- and a guaranteed outcome. They want a fair trial -- and a silent defendant. They want due process -- and a sure hanging. Treating Mohammad like the exact equivalent of an American citizen would look to most Americans like ideological insanity. So they deliver the news with a wink and a nod, just to show they aren’t really serious. And this is supposed to demonstrate American fairness to the world.

But this is more than a pious fraud; it is a dangerous, pious fraud. Consider the legal precedent that Holder has now set and that Marcus appears to defend. If you are a terrorist and kill American soldiers abroad -- say on the USS Cole -- you get a military tribunal. But if you kill American civilians within the United States -- say men, women and children, on a clear September morning, as you give high-fives in a Pakistani cyber-café -- you get a high-profile federal trial in New York, with all the media trimmings. As William McGurn has pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, this is not the most thoughtful incentive structure. A pundit can try to argue for such a thing, because he or she has no direct responsibility for the lives of Americans. No serious public official could hold this view -- which makes Eric Holder an unserious public official.

On other fronts, Marcus contends that what Holder calls the “crime of the century,” considered in the trial of the century, conducted blocks from where Sept. 11 victims were incinerated, witnessed by their outraged families, surrounded by SWAT teams, beset by protesters, given saturation cable coverage, will not be a “circus.” Good luck with that.

She argues that the trial will be a propaganda victory -- for the forces of goodness. An actual expert on homeland security I consulted predicted that Mohammed would “take the stand, and use it as a propaganda, recruitment and fundraising platform for al Qaeda.” Merely because most of America and the world would be repulsed by his message does not make the prospect less useful for radicals seeking heroes and martyrs. As Sept. 11 showed, it doesn’t take many.

Marcus argues that a trial of the CIA’s main source of early intelligence on al-Qaeda will proceed without the revelation of any useful information to al-Qaeda. Well, one of the federal prosecutors who tried the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial contends that important information was revealed to al-Qaeda during that process. Message for Ruth: This is a prospect with a precedent.

Marcus dismisses the idea that a high-profile trial of al-Qaeda operatives in New York might invite new attacks, shrugging that “their city is a target, trial or not.” But the issue is not whether New York is at risk. It is whether a federal trial would put New York at increased risk. By the evidence of attacks across the world, al-Qaeda loves symbolic violence, designed to send dramatic, public messages. It loves to mark events and anniversaries with its madness. Marcus’s indifference to this threat is naïve; I’d even go so far as to say reckless.

But Marcus’s biggest objection to my column is the charge -- what she calls a “slur” -- that Holder is acting in an ideological fashion. She fails to understand that I was giving Holder the benefit of the doubt. It is possible that he is actually motivated by animus against the CIA. It is possible he intends the federal trial of Mohammed to expose and humiliate the American intelligence community. But Holder’s record of service makes this motive inconceivable, at least to me. So I assumed that Holder’s motivations are rooted in a liberal legal ideology that finds greater legitimacy in the civilian prosecution of terrorists. If this is not Holder’s motive, the alternatives are more disturbing.

By Michael Gerson  | November 19, 2009; 12:28 PM ET
Categories:  Gerson  | Tags:  Michael Gerson  
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Comments

Ha! Ha! Ha! Marcus showed you up for the dishonest fool that you are, Gerson. Your rebutal is even more ridiculous and flawed than your original op-ed piece.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | November 19, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Because its impossible to imagine that the (wink wink) confidence of Holder and the Obama administration has anything to do with their certainty of the strength of their case and must in fact be a guarantee to circumvent the due process of law if the outcome doesn't go our way.

Can you seriously imagine a federal judge or jury of Americans (from NYC!) acquitting this guy if there was even one shred of credible evidence?! If he gets acquitted he will perhaps be the most thoroughly proven innocent man in the history of the American court system.

Posted by: devin3 | November 19, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Not being a constitutional lawyer, I don't know whether the proceedings should properly be by civilian criminal trial or military tribunal, though I can't say I'd really be offended at either.

However, as a (Metro)card-carrying NYC subway rider, I am mystified at all this hype at the supposed risks this trial would impose on New Yorkers. We're already the biggest target in the world, and believe me, we are quite attuned to that (which is why I've carried an annoyingly-large N95 mask in my briefcase since 2001). But I cannot fathom how this makes us a bigger one.

I can't imagine where pundits and pollsters are dredging up all these New Yorkers who are supposedly afraid of this trial. Possibly Staten Island (where there are many Republicans, but no subways).

Posted by: Itzajob | November 19, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Really...a weaker argument than the original.
From the first "comedic" slap -- "alleged mastermind"...if anything it should be "self-confessed." But that little bit of missed humor aside, Gerson is so far off base as to make himself the fool rather than Marcus, the intended target of his alleged rebuttal.

Posted by: RDAM | November 19, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"Pious Fraud" should be the title of Gerson's column.

Posted by: irae | November 19, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Your comments are spot on in that all the people who are loving the idea of a civil trial rather than military are confident he will be found guilty before a trial is set and they know exactly how a jury and a judge will act. The media attention will be astounding for years to come. Just look at this feud between writers and it is only over the prospect of a trial probably 5 years to come.
And now the biggest and foolish of the dems and even a senator as well - the Attorney General and the President himself have now stated that people will not be afraid after they find KSM has been found guilty and put to death or if acquitted would be detained anyway. So in all reality, we are applying war standards of combatants to him if he gets acquitted but he is not being treated as one when on trial and Obama declares him guilty while on his Asia tour.
And how can people who attack the Cole get a military trial yet attack the most ultimate military symbol - the Pentagon - get a civil trial?
This isn't about showing the world the US is a country of laws - this is some misguided administration who feels that putting him in a civil trial will degrade him rather than a military trial? I take great offense and to me this is showing a disdain for the civil courts by the attorney General himself. So did Holder put him in a civil trial for degredation only and what does that say about his beliefs of the judicial system?

Posted by: justmyvoice | November 19, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Marcus knows what she is talking about, you don't.

A trial is not a soapbox where you get to say whatever you want. You are only permitted to say things and enter evidence the judge permits based on the prior motions, e. g. in limine, before trial wherein s/he decides what is relevant.

While of course this is subject to tremendous potential for abuse, and generally is abused, it prevents exactly the kind of soap box problem you are worried about. Defendant or attorney starts to blather about irrelevant material, judge shuts them up, finds them in contempt, and can (and sometimes does) take affirmative action to keep them quiet like having them tied up and their mouth taped shut with duct tape. Read the news, this kind of thing happens and is reported from time to time.

Your argument is basically sedition - our legal system doesn't work so it has to be administratively overturned to get the right result.

Posted by: andycutler | November 19, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Marcus' criticisms of Gerson's piece were totally naive, and Gerson's rebuttal proves it.
We condemn kangaroo trials where the result is pre-ordained in other "less civilized"
countries and then we propose a show trial of our own, where both the president and the attorney general all but guarantee a conviction and a death sentence. If this were not so totally indefensible, it would be laughable !
Let the military do the required dirty work and send these guys to Allah for their reward.

Posted by: tjmacdonald | November 19, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Itzajob,

As a New Yorker, and another Metro card carrier, I could not agree more with us. New Yorkers are sitting ducks, anyway. But that does not make us bed-wetting fools afraid of our own shadows.

Moreover, we are due our day in court. After all, on 9/11, we bore the direct brunt of the attack. We lost hundreds of police officers and firefighters and thousands of civilians. Our city stank for weeks after the attack and was polluted beyond belief. The economic life of downtown Manhattan was ruined, throwing thousands of small business owners out of work.

We deserve to see these savages tried in our Federal court, by some of the toughest prosecutors in the nation. We deserve our day in court.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | November 19, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Gerson has demolished Marcus' argument. And if you want to see just how ill-thought out Holder's position is, check out the video of him trying to respond to Lindsey Graham's questioning. It's gone viral! Even NPR's Frank James is aghast:

www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2009/11/would_us_need_to_read_bin_lade.html

Posted by: danner1 | November 19, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Most Americans have not been fooled by Obama and Holder on this matter. We know they are lying..they really want to drag Bush and Cheney through the mud and ,many of the White house lawyers for Obama have actually worked with and defended these terrorists while at Guanatanmo.. Obama and Holder care more about them and their rights than they do about most Americans. This will backfire on them and they deserve everything they are going to get..

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | November 19, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Gerson:
"She goes on to assure us that Mohammed will not gain a platform for his Islamist views because an “experienced federal judge” can shut him up in court. But why should this defendant be denied the right to speak fully in his own defense?"
.
Um, maybe because it's perfectly legal and just to gag anyone disrupting the court proceedings? Happens all the time when people don't obey the Judge who is presiding.
.
As to failure or not, yes failure is an option though a very very very minute one. Remember this is a mess created by Bush that Obama is cleaning up...It may not be perfect or pretty.

Posted by: rpixley220 | November 19, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gerson,

It's not "My normally mild-manner colleague", it's " my normally mild-mannerED" colleague.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | November 19, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

???

Er... let me see if I follow here.

Marcus, Obama and Holder are all awful hypocrites for proclaiming the defendants guilty... because it's inconsistent to assert individuals are guilty while demanding they get a fair trial.

It's horrible for Holder to decide some terrorists we can try in federal court and some in military tribunals... because our military needs to know his decision BEFORE THEY ARREST THE TERRORISTS... because then Holder, seeing the facts of that arrest, will then make a decision that runs COUNTER to those facts and jeopardize our security. Or something. I'm still not getting that one, to be honest....

The federal trial will be a circus... because you SAY it will be a circus, I guess. I mean, we've tried terrorists in federal court before, but I guess this time is different because... they're supervillains with laserbeam eyes, or something.

New York will be at increased risk... well, again. The supervillains with laserbeam eyes thing.

Posted by: howlless | November 19, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Gerson, It is so convenient for you to dismiss the Constitution as "ideological insanity". the fact is that your position is the one that is "new" and a step away from what the Founding Fathers intended. Your lack of faith in our Judicial System and the Constitution are disgusting. It was people like you that cheered on Hitler out of some distorted sense of nationalism an outside threats. You are un-American, thank God your right to be stupid does not land you in jail in this great country.

Posted by: rcc_2000 | November 19, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Since NYC is one of the liberal bastions that elected Obama, may you get what you deserve in this case. If you are lucky, the trials will go as planned. If you aren't, the intelligence agencies may refuse to be forward in open court with the evidence and how it came to be, and the defense may pick the case apart on civil rights technicalities. But two things stand out; the defendants are not US citizens and don't deserve the rights of citizens; and the intelligence community stands a good chance of being compromised which in turn compromises your security. Sometimes when you decide to show off, you embarrass yourself (Obama and his court of fools).

Posted by: tnvret | November 19, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

This is B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T. The man is responsible for the murder of thousands of Americans. Why is he still alive? He should have been properly tried and executed years ago.

One thing is for shour. Whether its the Democrats of the Republicans running things doesn't matter, They're all P.U.S.S.I.E.S.

Posted by: wjj_johnson | November 19, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Great column, Michael! Really gave food for thought. For an administration that enjoys dithering, this certainly demonstrates that giving inexperienced, mindless people more time does not result in a wise decision.

This is a terrible action that will either end up with another Supreme Court intervention or with ridiculous ripples of precedent setting complications for future trials.

From Wright to Gates to Nobels for nothing to this we see the well displayed roadsigns of disaster.

Thank you for bringing sense to this absurd situation Michael!

Posted by: 2009frank | November 19, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Inane arguments in your columns. Vicious ad hominems against colleagues who dare question your writings. And no engaging the substantial points brought up by Ms. Marcus, just a reference to an anonymous supposed "actual expert".

You're still very much the speechwriter for the Bush administration that helped trick the country into accepting a war based on falsehoods. You're still a dishonest debater. And you're still a disgrace that is inexplicably given a column twice weekly to put forth your badly-argued views on Mr. Hiatt's editorial page.

Posted by: sembtex | November 19, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Marcus is a non thinker and pretty much a Dingbat. Her logic has always been like nails on a chalkboard...just like most liberals...brain damage...genetic defects. One day science may have a cure...hopefully

Posted by: sophic | November 19, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Gerson isn't any more honest here than when he was selling the "Mushroom Cloud" garbage to the American people. He has the blood of a million dead Iraqi civilians on his hands. He should be writing his pathetic memoirs in prison, not a column for this formerly respected editorial page.

Fred Hiatt, you are guilty of malpractice. You have soiled this city badly. Step down.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 19, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Gerson: You're completely clearly and utterly playing games. And it's not funny. Like you in any way care about "alleged" or any other "injustice." You Republicans are like robats who just argue anything at any time just to fight. And then you used the "Going Rogue" headline to trick us into thinking it's a Sarah Palin piece (which we'd read from an anti-Palin point of view). I mean, seriously, man, stop arguing just to argue. You conservative are just ruining this country with that junk.

Posted by: Urnesto | November 19, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Civil trials pointing the guns of American jurisprudence at the most infamous terrorists to have ever committed crimes against America on its own soil will become venues that will launch a new crop of lawyers onto the international stage.

Events wherein people using powerful weapons, funded with hundreds of millions of dollars, launch attacks against a country, its people, its embassies and other outposts, are not just “criminal acts,” they are Wars.

http://pacificgatepost.com/2009/11/show-trial-goes-to-new-york.html

Posted by: JamesRaider | November 19, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

To those who think New York City will immediately produce a jury that will render a guilty verdict, dream on. You will see an army of Bill Kunstler wannabes and other ACLU types defending them, God knows what kind of judge presiding, and a jury pool of virulent, dogmatic, Cheney-hating leftists and assorted other injured, belligerent citizens adjudicating these monsters, with daily reports emanating from lower Manhattan, from Al Jazeera on down, trumpeting the KSM comments, regardless of court rulings.

A unanimous jury decision? 'Fahgeddaboutit'. A catastrophic move by Obama & Holder.

Posted by: CraiginJersey | November 19, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Other outrages...

Holder still supports and is allowing Military trials to continue for other terrorists.

Holder / Obama STOPPED the military trials 8 months ago. At least 18 of Holders legal peers defended the terrorists and many or most ? are now in the Justice Dept working... terror cases. Feel safer ?

KSM might have been convicted by now and been executed already but for the Holder / Obama freeze 8 months ago.

Final indignity.. Holder claiming the long delays in prosecutions (delays his peers enabled) were a contributing factor in his decision.

Posted by: pvilso24 | November 19, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

you say potato, I say potatoe...The smugness of position really shines in this piece. REpubs, or more specifically Ex-Bushies like our dear writer, are so convinced of their righteousness that pretty much anything that Obama or this administration. I m convinced the right is itching for a dictator to arise, and to conduct things "the way they are supposed to". After eight years of cronyism, outright thievery of the US Treasury, and sheer incompetence (see 9/11, Katrina, etc.) they still believe their god given right to power and governance. Dictatorships execute their enemies, foreign and domestic, especially domestic. KSM should have been executed, but as Marcus points out, this can be a propaganda event for the US as well. For this is a civilized country, a country of laws. We are not ruled by the military, nor will we ever. KSM will be convicted, according to our finest traditions and procedures, then he will be either stuffed in a SuperMax or he will be executed, but instead of stooping to the barbarian's level, we will honor the dead by following due process. Only then will the healing begin.

Posted by: sherlockjt | November 19, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Gerson is an idiot. We gave the Nazis a full trial, in front of cameras, at Nuremburg, and we don't have a Fourth Reich. The world will see
these guys as mass murderers. As for "recruitment", that happens every day, whether these guys are on trial or not. The biggest impetus for recruitment was our invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: garbage1 | November 20, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Oh, the sarcasm! Ruth Marcus got under the skin of this fellow because she has him nailed down to the marrow. The tip off of the writhing anger that motivates Mr. Gerson is felt from the first "normally mild-mannered" parry that hardly deflects.
The mask is off.
Touché!

Posted by: rarignac | November 20, 2009 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Gerson reveals in this post that he is essentially a pissy, immature clod.

Posted by: hellslittlestangel1 | November 20, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

To those who think New York City will immediately produce a jury that will render a guilty verdict, dream on. You will see an army of Bill Kunstler wannabes and other ACLU types defending them, God knows what kind of judge presiding, and a jury pool of virulent, dogmatic, Cheney-hating leftists and assorted other injured, belligerent citizens adjudicating these monsters, with daily reports emanating from lower Manhattan, from Al Jazeera on down, trumpeting the KSM comments, regardless of court rulings.

A unanimous jury decision? 'Fahgeddaboutit'. A catastrophic move by Obama & Holder.

Posted by: CraiginJersey | November 19, 2009 9:59 PM
========================================

Yeah, right! As if New Yorkers, of which I am a proud one, were not furious about what happened to their city. Remember, clown, the we lost hundreds of police officers and firdefighters, along with thousands of civilians? That we could see smoke from the debris of the towers for 10 months straight? That thousand of people were thrown out of work because small businesses had to close for lack of customers? That the air downtown was irrespirable fore weeks on end? Do you think we have forgoten the horror of that day?

And you have the nerve to add insult to injury by writing the following cr*p: "You will see an army of Bill Kunstler wannabes and other ACLU types defending them, God knows what kind of judge presiding, and a jury pool of virulent, dogmatic, Cheney-hating leftists "?

You are a fre*k.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | November 20, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Gerson, you have proven time and time again that you're nothing but a chickenhawk girlyman. Marcus didn't have to do much to show once again that you have a peabrain. She's right, you're wrong.

Posted by: jkarlinsky | November 20, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I literally cannot get used to what a lousy Fox News like paper Fred Hiatt and the hip young part time publisher have put forward to replace what was at one time the greatest newspaper in America. Mega ditto's Glen, I mean Rush, I mean Sarah, I mean Sean, no, sorry, I mean Mikey-boy! (I know GOP are one name phenomena, like Sasquatch or, in Mr. Gerson's case, Merv.)

Posted by: wapoisrightwingrag | November 20, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Marcus is a fool. But Gerson is a Fred Hiatt sized tool. So the fool dares to criticize the tool who responds with a fact-free piece of propaganda.

Mr. Gerson is a perfect Hiatt-Post writer. His column reads like a GOP Fundraising letter, with all the strength of argument one finds in the Glen Beck GOP: none. Just baseless assertion after baseless assertion.

The intellectual banruptcy is obvious: Either agree with Mr. Gerson, and don't hurt his dandified, slightly masculinity-deprived (Jkarlinsky is correct that there is the real air of sissyhood surrounding Mr. Gerson) pompous sense of his own worth, or face the silly lash of his simpering tongue.

Posted by: wapoisrightwingrag | November 20, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I thought we were fighting over there because they did not like our WAY of LIFE?

You talk about spending!

OBL stated his GOAL-

Do you recall what that was?

It was to CRUSH CAPITALISM!

Looks like your man Bush - accommodated him - quite nicely!

Now what?

SEP 2008- IT was a GLOBAL MASS DESTRUCTION!

Do you get that?

GLOBAL?

Do you know who was at fault for that?

THE USA!

We accomplished OBL's GOAL for him - led by BUSH and the GOP for 8 years!

What in the heck are you talking about?

National Homeownership Month, 2003

June 13, 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary National Homeownership Month, 2003

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Homeownership is more than just a symbol of the American Dream...

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is leading an Administration-wide effort to bring new tools and resources to would-be homeowners.

What was the ‘Administration-wide effort' to bring new tools and resources to would-be homeowners…’ after June 13, 2003?

2003-‘Administration-wide effort'?

ONE YEAR LATER......


March 8, 2004

AIG, Citigroup Battle Unions on Political Donation Disclosure
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=arBbK7iUfgPM&refer=us

Merrill Backs Bush

Bush derives much of his campaign donations from executives at publicly traded companies, with employees at Merrill Lynch & Co., UBS AG and MBNA Corp. among those making up 13 of his top 20 donors last year, contributing $2.9 million.

Six of the top 20 donors to Senator John Kerry, who has clinched the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, were employees of listed companies, and they gave $275,000 since he began campaigning in January 2003, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


$2.9 million- Bush

$275,000 - Kerry

FOLLOW the MONEY!!!

Oh and do not forget your leader's call:

WSJ/Murdoch: Dumb it Down Mr President!

Posted by: sasha2008 | November 20, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Exposure of the intelligence community, perhaps, but why does Gerson regard that as humiliation? If torture was right, necessary and useful, or appeared to be so at the time, shouldn't the people who ordered and performed it be unashamed of their work. Neither Harry Truman or Paul Tibbets ever lost a night's sleep over Hiroshima.

And we gave Herman Goering and the rest of Hitler's gang a public forum to propagandize for Naziism at Nurenberg. Are we more afraid now?

Finally, I see that Gerson is haunted by the ghost of OJ. Does he seriously believe that there is a prospect of acquittal in this trial?

Posted by: jhirschhorn1 | November 20, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

If Gerson lives a hundred lifetimes he will never wash the blood off his hands.

For those who need empirical proof that there is no God I give you Michael Gerson, professional Christian.

Posted by: nleibowitz | November 20, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"I assumed that Holder’s motivations are rooted in a liberal legal ideology that finds greater legitimacy in the civilian prosecution of terrorists."

I wasn't under the impression that you have to be a liberal to respect the rule of law.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | November 20, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I think Mr. Gerson has hit the nail on the head. This trial is about nothing but the President and his AG trying to look like they are doing the right thing. First, these terrorists are not American citizens and are not due anything from the American justice system. Since they were treated so roughly in Guantanamo (their own prayer rugs, access to library, copies of the Koran, three meals a day) compared to how they treat Americans they capture (I've heard beging beheaded isn't TOO painful. Its a humanitarian way to kill really) I understand where we need to treat them like the compassionate human beings they are.
Second, yes we have tried terrorists in this country before but they were home grown (Timothy McVeigh for example) and their trials were splashed across the front page for weeks. So the trial of men involved in the greatest attack on American civilians is going to be quiet? Please!
Finally, all these people using the comparison between this trial and the Nuremberg Nazi trials need to read their history books again. They were the Nuremberg WAR trials. Not civil ones. All they were was the allies reading off the list of crimes, saying your guilty, and killing them. It was a trial by word only and in actuallity more of a public execution.

Posted by: jmder | November 20, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting to read all the comments from the knee-jerk liberals as they assault & dismiss Gerson's arguments.As a former federal prosecutor with real familiarity with the kinds of issues Gerson raises, I find many of his observations compeling.The President and Mr Holder's statements could be found by a judge to have poisoned the possible jury pool and this could seriously affect a trial.Moreover those who feel that the defendants can be silenced at trial don't seem to understand how a real prosecution is conducted, it ain't like those on Boston Legal.Defendants have a right to testify & it is possible that these defendants wishing to be martyrs to their cause, will make statements to inflame jihadists everywhere.Further if they are convicted they are allowed to address the court before sentencing, again offering them a forum to expound their messages of hate & jihad.Probably the most embarassing comments made in defense of a civilian trial concern the issue of possible acquital.Publically stating that should the impossible occur & the defendants be acquited, then the US govt would promptly rearrest them on other charges.What picture does that send to the world about our criminal justice system? The threat of a possible terrorist action are also magnified despite the claims of some posters. With the entire world's media present to offer live coverage,the trial may become an irresistable opportunity for jihadists to stage an event that they know will receive immediate & worldwide coverage.Terrorists thrill over the possibility of live coverage and know that the fallout of the terror is multipled by live coverage & to deny this is to live in a fantasy world.Jihadists have shown little care for their own lives,so there is little that the enhanced security can do to deter them.These arguments plus the incredible security costs a trial in a New York courthouse filled with thousands of others there for other cases present strong arguments for trial by military tribunal on a remote military base(which the Obama Admin will use in other cases).This decision seems more scripted as "red meat" for Mr Obama's leftist supporters rather than a well thoughtout policy decision.Hopefully our worse fears will not be realized,but no one knows now what the defendants will or will not do.Any claim is merely conjecture without evidence.

Posted by: arnnyc | November 21, 2009 6:21 AM | Report abuse

So, Mr Gerson, you are suggesting that terrorists plan on getting caught and therefore plan their attack so they can be tried in the venue of their choice. Really?

Maybe you should try writing about something where you can make a reasonable contribution to the discussion. We are all waiting.

Posted by: formerrepublician | November 21, 2009 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Our IDIOT-in-CHIEF already said we would find him guilty and execute him. Where you ever going to find an impartial jury of his peers now? Oh, and I bet those New Yorkers are going to be really impartial. Gerson, the AG, the Pres, I hear the song, Send in the Clowns!

Posted by: mgochs | November 21, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

This essay sounds like a pro/con debate in a high school newspaper. Touche!

Posted by: rdpch | November 22, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Does Michael Gerson even understand what the phrase "Going Rogue" means? Even used as a joke, he seems to misunderstand it completely.

Palin's book title is a reference to how she was supposedly a "maverick" or a rogue elephant, as it were, straying off the McCain campaign's controls. This came from the word being used during the campaign, by staffers.

How is Ruth Marcus "Going Rogue" by criticizing Gerson? It doesn't just mean "being mean" or whatever it is that Gerson seems to think.

Second, this has got to be the most petty, adolescent article I've seen yet in the already ridiculous Washington Post. The sneering line about how Ruth Marcus didn't use "alleged" enough-- is this supposed to be a serious criticism?

What a sad state of affairs, when the Washington Post is so blinded by its increasing right wing ideology that it doesn't see how low it's sunk letting people like Gerson write this kind of thing.

Posted by: BillEPilgrim | November 22, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

The men who planned the September 11 attacks were thugs and criminals. They were not "warriors."

They deserve to be tried in a civilian court as criminals.

It has NEVER made any sense to treat them as enemy combatants.

Imagine that their plans had gone completely awry and, instead of successfully toppling the Twin Towers, they had been caught and arrested.

Is there anyone who would today be arguing that they were soldiers in a war against America?

Posted by: ricklinguist | November 23, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Query: who's a more preposterous buffoon - Mike Gerson or Chuck Krauthammer? I say Krauthammer wins hands down. Thoughts?

Posted by: chert | November 23, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

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