WASHINGTON — Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann, never one to miss an opportunity to promote conservative boilerplate, is now claiming that offering a federal court trial to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks is a “slap in the face” to not only victims of the tragedy — but all Americans everywhere.
The right to a fair trial, Bachmann said in a press release Wednesday, is one of the “benefits and perks reserved for American citizens.”
Bachmann’s words echo the claims made by a number of others at a recent rally in New York, where protesters lamented that 9/11 perpetrators had “the same rights as U.S. citizens” and argued that due process was “reserved for U.S. citizens.”
The Washington Independent counters:
In fact, the “right” to be prosecuted in a U.S. federal court has never been “reserved” for U.S. citizens at all. It’s historically been a “right” accorded to anyone who commits a crime on U.S. soil. Thus everyone from a U.S.-born citizen to an illegal alien who commits a federal crime in the United States gets tried in federal court. Although the government has just recently created special military commissions to try some crimes against U.S. military targets abroad, we don’t normally create new courts or legal systems to try non-citizens who commit mass murder, mail fraud, or any other crimes that might land them in federal court.
As New York City courts prepare to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for his admitted role in masterminding the September 11 attacks more than eight years ago, Bachmann and other conservatives say they’re worried he might try something fishy that would “place our national security at risk.”
“It only takes a moment to realize that KSM will use a public trial to access sensitive intelligence information, plan more attacks and mock the families he tore apart on 9/11,” said Bachmann, advocating for “swift and conclusive” justice.
How Mohammed might in a court trial have access to “sensitive intelligence information,” as she claims, is unclear. It is also uncertain what her notion of “swift and conclusive” justice entails, or how Mohammed might acquire the resources while handcuffed and detained to threaten the U.S. homeland.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has routinely and aggressively slammed Obama all year, made similar assertions, calling the decision by President Obama and Attorney General Holder’s to try Mohammed in courts a “huge mistake” that would make him “a hero in certain circles.” He also said this is evidence that Obama is “more radical” than he previously thought.
But even Cheney stopped short of saying the right to a fair trial was exclusive to American citizens.
Various others have praised the decision to put Mohammed on trial, arguing that it reflects the United States’ best principles, including the rule of law, due process and fair justice.