What If Terrorists Grandstand in Court?

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When al-Qaeda operative Khaleid Shaikh Mohammed stands in open court in New York City, he'll have the opportunity to speak in his defense. The things he might say have prompted concerns among Americans of "grandstanding" -- that Mohammed would abuse the court room as a platform to rail against America. After all, the New York Times reports that when Mohammed originally conceived of the plot in 1996, he wanted an additional hijacked plane just for him. "He would be on the one plane not to crash, and after the plane landed would emerge and deliver a speech condemning American policy on Israel."

  • 'Insult To The Victims'  Sarah Palin condemns Mohammed's entire trial on the risk of grandstanding. "The trial will afford Mohammed the opportunity to grandstand and make use of his time in front of the world media to rally his disgusting terrorist cohorts. It will also be an insult to the victims of 9/11, as Mohammed will no doubt use the opportunity to spew his hateful rhetoric in the same neighborhood in which he ruthlessly cut down the lives of so many Americans."
  • I Hope He Does  Spencer ckerman argues we should want Mohammed to grandstand. "I want to hear how KSM builds a case against America, because everyone wil hear how laughably conspiratorial and clownish it is. Think of what a cathartic moment it will be when America sees the face of the man considered to be UBL’s most efficient henchman and he delivers a pitiful harangue to a bank of cameras. No one will be emboldened to do anything but laugh," he writes. "It should forever shatter the pernicious myth that al-Qaeda is composed of supermen — supermen against whom America has no choice but to alter its character and most precious laws in order to confront. I suspect we’ll have an Eichmann-in-Jerusalem moment — and sorry for the unfortunate Nazi/al-Qaeda analogy; al-Qaeda are not the Nazis; but I couldn’t really think of any other parallel — except instead of the banality of evil, we’ll see the lunacy and vanity and self-absorption of it." Ackerman added, "We need to let this man discredit himself as a venal and psychopathic fool in as public a forum as possible."
  • Who Cares What He Says?  ThomasP.M. Barnett shrugs. "I do like the Obama decision to try the 9/11 suspects in U.S. courts vice military tribunals. It was a criminal act committed on our soil, whatever the larger 'war' intentions, so I prefer seeing our justice system work it out without fear of 'revelations' or ideological grandstanding," he writes. "Since when do we give the terrorists the right to determine what gets consecrated and where we're allowed to seek our justice?"
  • The Media Wins  Charles Johnson of political blog Little Green Footballs predicts that, whatever Mohammed says, it will get a lot of coverage. "I don’t think this increases the danger of terror attacks against New York; the city is already a target. It does increase the danger of circus trials, with grandstanding civil rights attorneys and constant outbursts and tirades from Mohammed. One thing’s certain: it will be the biggest windfall for the media since the OJ Simpson extravaganza."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.