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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/22/10

Wittes, Goldsmith, and KSM: "Absurd," "Cynical."

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It's been a few days now since Benjamin Wittes and Jack Goldsmith wrote their op-ed in the Washington Post calling the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "dispensable" and proffering that "the politically draining fight about civilian vs..... military trials is not worth the costs."

Their proposal: "Instead of expending great energy on a battle over the proper forum for an unnecessary trial of Mohammed and his associates, both sides would do well instead to define the contours of the detention system that will, for some time to come, continue to do the heavy lifting in incapacitating terrorists."

Benjamin Wittes is a senior fellow and research director in public law at the

Brookings Institution. Jack Goldsmith teaches at Harvard Law School and served as an assistant attorney general in the Bush administration. Both are members of the Hoover Institution's Task Force on National Security and Law.

After all the kerfuffle and back-and-forthing concerning where KSM would be tried and by whom, the Wittes-Goldsmith approach seemed sufficiently outside the box to at least warrant some further exploration.

So I contacted some of the brainiest civil rights lawyers I know to ask their opinions. Here's what some of them told me:

David Frakt is a Lt. Col. in the Air Force Reserve JAG Corps and a professor of law at Western State University College of Law. He was formerly a military defense counsel who challenged the legitimacy of Military Tribunals and won the release of a GITMO detainee and his repatriation to Afghanistan.

He told me, "Wittes and Goldsmith's solution would satisfy no one. A trial would serve a number of important functions other than simply providing a lawful basis for incarceration if convicted and sentenced. The American people deserve to know what happened on 9/11 and who was behind it. The families deserve an opportunity to see justice served. The accused deserve an opportunity to have their guilt proven, or establish their innocence."

He added, "Nearly everyone agrees that this was one of the most monstrous single crimes ever committed. Whether one views KSM and his alleged co-conspirators as war criminals or simply mass murderers, there needs to be a criminal trial in some forum."

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
 
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