Terror Trial and 9-11's Lasting Legacy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The announced trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan are part of the continued legacy of the September 11th attacks. Two members of the 9-11 Comission, former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and Richard Ben-Veniste, author of The Emperor's New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate to 9/11, give their take.


Richard Ben-Veniste and Thomas Kean

Comments [63]

Elaine Richard from Manhattan: Upper West Side

I think it's a terrible idea to have the trials here in the city. Have a criminal trial by all means, but there is no doubt this puts us New Yorkers in further danger of some nutter out to do damage to our city and its people. Why not hold the trials somewhere where the possibility of devastating destruction is way less? Somewhere where bombing or crashing a plane into a building will result in the loss of a handful of lives, not thousands. And where the media will not want to go to cover it! Let's hold them in, say, Alaska, in midwinter and see how much live coverage and attention Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gets from there. And I wish we would stop anticipating a verdict and death sentence. The last thing we need is for this madman to be viewed as a martyr. My feeling is do the whole thing quietly and quickly and lock him—and his ilk—up forever. We need to not get further embroiled in an unholy "holy" war. And we all know that when you kill one rabid fundamentalist, of any stripe, ten more even angrier ones rise up to take his place. Life is too short. Our small, precious, fragile planet has too many other problems that need our attention.

Nov. 20 2009 10:46 AM
Carol from The Bronx

Holding this trial in lower Manhattan and using the resources of our valued NYPD is nothing short of insane. Not to mention the physical and financial demands of tight security and the effects on the relatives of the victims of the WTC terror attacks.
If a "safe venue" is possible, I say hold this trial out at sea on a boat surrounded by a high security force and as far away from our country as possible. And keep the sensation-driven media away!!! And by the way-- where is the monster Osama Bin Laden hiding and why haven't we been able to take him out???

Nov. 19 2009 08:22 PM

sorry but that just sounded like 2 scared old men to me. Reminds me how scary and ignorant the Bush years felt.

As a patriot I am designed to die defending this country's freedoms and human rights--at the core of which is a functioning, principled legal system. If there is any political point to be made it's that. If the terrorists disrupt the trial -- well, then we've found our "good" war. Pull every last troop out of Iraq and set them up around the $%@# Manhattan courthouse. FOR THAT I'LL VOLUNTEER!

Nov. 17 2009 05:30 PM
Steve from Red Bank NJ

I find it unsettling that the only thing being debated here is the court this man should be tried in, civilian or military. Both men Mr. Kean, and Mr. Ben-Venista speak as if his guilt is not in question. I would hope that whichever court gets the case there would be a presumption of innocence. After all isn't that the point of departure of all criminal cases. I think the country is entitled to see the evidence, I just hope it's more than a confession brought on by months of torture.

Nov. 17 2009 05:11 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

PS - Liberals please note that this trial is being brought to you by the same group of incompetent and unreliable Bolsheviks, Maoists and fanatic Muslim apologists in the Obama administration who despite their explicit promises to you to the contrary, have not closed Gitmo, because after the election they realized it is necessary; have not pulled out of Iraq because they are afraid of the country’s collapse on their watch and have not reinforced US and NATO troops in Afghanistan (the necessary war) which is causing more and more of our troops to be killed and wounded on a daily basis. Once again, “heck of a job, Barry.”

Nov. 17 2009 04:07 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Brian, let’s get real, with the Dems, Obama and Congressional poll ratings drastically down and health care socialization and the rest of the Dems evil plans for destroying America, like “Cap & Trade” badly stalled, Obama and his minions need a big distraction and fast.

Hence a show trial in Manhattan, where the guilty get a worldwide “soapbox” to denounce America (giving Obama a rest on that front); an opportunity to reveal more security secrets, as did earlier civilian trials of terrorists and the Obama admin itself, in a vain attempt to distract and blame the Bush admin; and ultimately a chance to go free (which could cause an even bigger distraction and a possible national emergency requiring the invocation of Martial Law). “Heck of a job, Barry.”

The “lie” that this decision is Eric Holder's and not Barry Hussein Obama is the joke of the day. Nothing gets done in this admin without the approval of the axis of evil, i.e., Obama, Emanual and Axlerod. They are constantly triangulating the political considerations, implications and consequences of every action and every word they say or do.

This is of course the same Eric Holder who was responsible for murdering dozens of American children at Waco, TX. He should have been disbarred, arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned for life for manslaughter and/or negligent homicide. What a wonderful man to have in this administration. What a shining example for today’s youth. Lol.

Nov. 17 2009 04:07 PM
hjs from 11211

56] Madeleine
voter 51, knows that he was replying to 42

Nov. 17 2009 11:57 AM
Madeleine from Manhattan

Um, Voter from Brooklyn....the Inquisition? The auto-da-fes? Ferdinand and Isabella? Bloody Mary? Torquemada? Christians have BUCKETS of blood on their hands and ashes in their hair. All in the name of God.

Nov. 17 2009 11:32 AM
paulette from nyc

Howdy Brian, I had just tuned you in and thought you were interviewing John Wayne and Clint Eastwood! The cowboy mentality was alarming. I found the over emotional babbling of your guests, FRIGHTFUL, along with the glee in promoting one of their books! What are their sources? After WMD I think that sources need to be under immense scrutiny…I don’t care who they are, Bush LIED! So the highest athority should be even more scrutinized.

And IS IT A FACT that Shaikh Mohammed decapitated Daniel Pearl? I read the Shaikh bost this, but unless it is fact, why would a man in high rank perpetuate a rumor like this? Is he hoping to gather emotional support coming from rumors, this is dangerous, unethical and tabloid!

And your guest went to the extent of saying that the Shaikh doesn't deserve the same rights as an American citizens, it is outrageous to throw such a sound bite like this out there. I grew up believing we, Americans, hold human rights above everything and I will continue to believe this.

Giving this man a fair trial for the world to witness will be the example to live by. And the caller who called in “take the death penalty off the table” ABSOLUTELY, if we don’t wish him to be celebrated as a martyr, let’s not make him one. If he is found guilty (not just someone who wants to be an infamous warrior to take down the “Great Western Satan”) let him rot in prison, never seeing freedom again. Now this is a healthy soundbite “We America took away from Shaikh Mohammed what we hold most dear, FREEDOM!”.

Nov. 17 2009 11:27 AM
hjs from 11211

49] the truth
i'm always serious. i'm just not going to wait until they come for me.

sorry about spell check

Nov. 17 2009 10:53 AM
Diane from NJ

Just listening to Gov Kean- and I am a big fan of his - it seems that he was uncomfortable in some of the things he was saying. They were almost like talking points created to espouse a point of view that he really didn't believe. His verbiage was so much more smooth in talking about other subjects.

I do believe that the American justice system can ably handle this and all other trials - terrorist or criminal or mafia, etc.

Nov. 17 2009 10:44 AM

Why are so many Americans today such cowards?

We ask our young people to put their lives on the line in far away places, but when it comes time for us at home to share in the task of administering the rights and responsibilities of justice, we immediately try to shirk from our duties. It's pathetic and sad and, ultimately, unAmerican.

Nov. 17 2009 10:42 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

You’re so right @ #42, John. There are no Christian nor Jewish zealots and there’s not been a single Christina nor Jew with blood on their hands killing for the same God as the Muslims in the history of the world.

Nov. 17 2009 10:41 AM
hjs from 11211

45] Zak
"just what in the hell are we protecting? "

profits? it's really the only thing we truely care about

Nov. 17 2009 10:40 AM
the truth... from bkny

HJS are you serious today? Also what is going with your spellcheck?

Nov. 17 2009 10:39 AM
BrettG from Astoria

FYI: /
Glenn Greenwald has a nice take on ksm.

For Gov. Kean's info, the terrorism statute separates terrorism from acts of war & doesn't label it a war crime. This is also the case for acts of sabotage.
Findlaw: 18 USC Chapter 113B, Terrorism sections. It seems very plain that terrorism is a criminal (law enforcement) crime.

As a former Manhattan juror, I am glad we are finally able to try these people in the SDNY venue.

to john above, we are definitely in an armed conflict situation. Without a Congressional Declaration of War as required by the Constitution we are NOT at war. Also note that the Federal District courts have tried & convicted approx. 195 terrorists who are now in US maximum security prisons. Military commissions have only 3 convictions & the latest miiitary commissions act has adopted the Federal District Court procedures for classified information & attendant processes.

Nov. 17 2009 10:37 AM
Ed Bernstein from Great Neck, NY

Isn't it about time that there is some accounting for the actual events of 9/11? Whoever we are talking about trying, it is all of us that deserve an accounting of the events.

Where is the evidence that the planes actually knocked the building down? Can that be proved beyond a reasonable doubt?

Unless you prove that, proving that KSM put the boxcutters in an envelope or signed a personal check for flight school does still does not prove that KSM killed 3000 people that day.

I hear everyone on your show believes that he is guilty, and by implication that there is no question that the "fundamentalist Islamic Terrorists" Al Q'aeda was responsible for this act.

Perhaps I am unusual expecting some form of formal investigation, but the one reason that I can see that KSM should absolutely tried in a civilian court precisely because the rigour of law would (at least under some normal circumstance) require a story that is supposed to be "Beyond a reasonable doubt." Without getting into any of the specifics, I don't know a single factoid about 9/11 that has yet been explained beyond a reasonable doubt.

I was also close enough to walk through the cloud. I saw heard and felt plenty up close and personal to know I now believe nothing. I'll hear anything, I'll evaluate any resonable scenerio, but I believe nothing. Prove to me there were islamic terrorists with boxcutters on all those flights, and that those planes alone, with no independent explosive devices previously installed into the buildings? To convict KSM, how much will actually have to be approved?

I want to see the trial, to see even a little bit opening up.

Nov. 17 2009 10:36 AM
hjs from 11211

by the way what makes him a "terrorist" until there's a trail?
we should just take the government's word for it?
what year did we become sheep afraid of our own shadows?

Nov. 17 2009 10:36 AM
Zak from Washington Heights

John from the office, if we disregard the constitution in the name of "protecting America," just what in the hell are we protecting?

Nov. 17 2009 10:35 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Mike #8,
The terrorist have won. Americans didn’t buy General Motors cars as GM told us to in their October 2001 commercials, so the terrorist won. And now, American politicians speak of any use of the American justice system outside of secrete kangaroo courts through the military as un-American and a threat. Now everything is terrorism with radio, television, newspapers, the House, and the Senate leading the drumbeat of fear.

Nov. 17 2009 10:32 AM
hjs from 11211

21] john from office
we should be as bad or worse then they are??

Nov. 17 2009 10:31 AM
john from office

Voter, you would be the first killed by these animals. These are religious nuts, working under instructions from their God.

They killed Pearl because he was a Jew, and these animals will be defended by Jews, it makes no sense. Lets wait to see the names of the defense Lawyers.

Nov. 17 2009 10:31 AM

What happened to Bin Laden? I didn't hear anything about this "KSM" guy until it was clear the US military had no clue how to catch Bin Laden. I want to see the evidence in this case. How do we know this guy has anything to do with it? Just believe the government? Maybe he knows where the WMDs are too.

Nov. 17 2009 10:29 AM
Crowe from Ridgewood, New York

Tom Kean's repeatedly stressing that "these people don't deserve rights" is quite chilling. Today it's terrorists, tomorrow it's anyone accused of any crime at all. We don't afford the accused rights because THEY deserve them, we do so because, in the long run, it serves the greater good for all of us.

Nov. 17 2009 10:28 AM
the truth... from bkny

I agree w/John #36

Nov. 17 2009 10:28 AM
Crowe from Ridgewood, New York

One of the reasons we're morally superior to terrorists is that we have free and independent courts were even the worst among us have the right to the fair application of justice. Of COURSE these accused criminals should be tried in open civilian courts and, if found guilty, should be punished according to the law. (I would, however, take death off the table. It's clear that that's what KSM wants - let him live out his life in reflection in prison.) This is why America is exceptional, and we should live up to our own ideals.

Nov. 17 2009 10:27 AM
hjs from 11211

Mike 10

"Now we would rather not be reminded? "

and every time there is an election we have to hear it all again.

Nov. 17 2009 10:27 AM
john from office

Our quest for fairness will destroy us.

Nov. 17 2009 10:25 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

John from the office,
I’m sure the North Vietnamese felt the same way about John McCain… I mean they (the Americans) killed women and children!
Vietnam and 9/11 are in no way equivalents, but taking the stance you do completely invalidates the Constitution of the United States of America and invalidates any claim the US will ever have again of being a moral force in the world or being a nation of law and order. The United States would be a country of vigilantism no better than Afghani’s ideas of justice. Your stance also gives carte blanche to any nation or group who captures American soldiers to convict them in a kangaroo court if not just put a bullet through them upon capture.
Though maybe you’re right John. Rapist get a show trial and a chance to learn how rapists are caught while dragging rape victims through the public pain of a trial… Same with child molesters for that matter. No trials for anyone ever, let’s just put a bullet through them upon capture and let that be the new American way. That way victims get shielded from the justice system and all means and methods of investigation are shielded from the light of day.

Nov. 17 2009 10:25 AM
Jared from Lower East Side

The last major terror trial in NYC, the 1998 African Embassy Bombers', had to be postponed due to the 9/11/01 attacks. I hope KSM isn't martyred before the trial ends due to another major attack on the metropolitan area.

Nov. 17 2009 10:25 AM
the truth... from bkny

New York or Old York let's skip the trial and cut to the chase!! Roll on 3!! We have a confession!!

Nov. 17 2009 10:25 AM

I can only imagine that Kean is worried that something will come up in the trial that will contradict the information put out in the 911 Commission Report. Why else would he be saying this craziness that makes no sense?

Nov. 17 2009 10:25 AM
RJ from brooklyn

He is already a martyr, and will always be a martyr, regardless of what happens at whatever kind of trial he gets. Torture kind of does that to prisoners with widespread followings.

Nov. 17 2009 10:24 AM
john from office

Federal discovery procedures will be used against us and this matter will be a circus.

Miranda rights, are you joking!!!!. We are at war.

Nov. 17 2009 10:24 AM

Has anyone other than KSM declared that he is the Mastermind of 911, and that he beheaded Daniel Pearl? Is there any evidence that this guy is not just a pathetic sociopath?

Nov. 17 2009 10:23 AM
Chuck from Brooklyn

A martyr in whose eyes? Thomas Kean?

Who care what nuts think anyways about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Thomas Kean is just another fear mongerer. He wants to keep Americans afraid.

Nov. 17 2009 10:22 AM
RJ from brooklyn

Can we please, please, please stop referring to him as "KSM"? It may make it easier to create a verbal shorthand, but it turns a high-visibility human being--whether evil or angelic--into a thing--an acronym like a TV station, a chemical, a Twitter abbreviation. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has meaning to both murderous and pious Muslims, as does his interpretation of Islam--much as heads of the Inquisition and the Rev. William Sloane Coffin represent different visions of Christianity--and their representatives should not be reduced to letters.

Nov. 17 2009 10:22 AM

Ben-Veniste doesn't seem as if he really has an open mind here. And does anyone not believe that Obama was well aware of this ruling and this announcement!!??

Nov. 17 2009 10:22 AM

Wouldn't a military trial end in a death penalty too? Wouldn't that make him a martyr too? Kean is ridiculous.

Nov. 17 2009 10:20 AM
John Celardo from Fanwood, NJ

I’m so weary of Republicans telling us how frightened we should be. I respect Tom Kean, but evidently he drank the Kool-Aid. If we listen to Giuliani, McCain and the rest of the fear mongers, we’d never be able to hold a difficult trial in Federal court. New York’s a tough town. Let’s get going.

Nov. 17 2009 10:20 AM
hjs from 11211

If we should not want ksm to be a martyr why is there so much talk of the "get out of jail free card" also called the death penalty.

Nov. 17 2009 10:20 AM
Cory from Manhattan

We always try defendants in the community where the crime was committed. It's an important part of providing justice for the community to see. The US needs an open forum, not a secret military trial, to show the world how bad he is. If anybody thinks that the US and our justice system won't look better than a low life like KSM has no faith in this country. If anyone thinks that KSM and his friends present a risk to NYC, I suggest we let KSM loose in Foley Square at noon on any week day with public notice. We'll see who is in danger.

Nov. 17 2009 10:20 AM
john from office

He should be fried in oil, slowly. He should be put through a wood chipper slowly.

Nov. 17 2009 10:19 AM
the truth... from bkny

Now what we should do is STOP giving this so much attention and press!

Nov. 17 2009 10:18 AM
the truth... from bkny

What is HE doing? How can they make him a martyr? Who really has control here? A lot of people are missing the point.

Nov. 17 2009 10:18 AM
Susan from Kingston

Why are constantly quoting all of the Republicans and their reactions to the possible trial of the 9/11 terrorists, Brian? Most of us already know what they are going say. We need to try these guys in a court of law and what better place than New York City.

Nov. 17 2009 10:17 AM
Daniel Epstein from Manhattan

I think it is entirely appropriate for KSM to be tried in a civilian court in New York. The so -called "War on Terror" is not a war declared by an act of congress. Trying this suspect in a military tribunal would potentially elevate him to the status of a heroic soldier in the Jihadist war rather than the common criminal that he is.

Nov. 17 2009 10:16 AM
Sam from NYC

I don't understand the analogies that have been drawn between the KSM case and the Nazis and the Japanese perpetrators of Pearl Harbor. There is a huge difference, which is that the latter two were the responsibility of states recognized by the US government. KSM and Al Qaeda pertain to no specific army or state, making them civilians who aught to be tried in civilian court. Why is this point absent from the argument?

Nov. 17 2009 10:16 AM

About a month ago on MEET the Press Gov Patterson stated that he was NOT told not to run by the Obama administration. Are you then calling the Govenor a liar? Is your source for this info a credible one?

Nov. 17 2009 10:15 AM

Nothing Kean says makes sense!

Nov. 17 2009 10:14 AM
Edward from NJ

What if Khalid Shaikh Mohammed uses his power to manipulate magnetic fields to escape from prison and wreak havoc on Manhattan?

Nov. 17 2009 10:13 AM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, CA

Firstly: we honour soldiers and war. Perhaps we shouldn't, but for this reason I would prefer that terrorists be treated like other common criminals to the extent possible.

More generally:
Many on the Right (as well as some on the Left, if the worst excesses of the 'Sixties are any guide) have a basic mistrust of civilisation, seeing it as fundamentally decadent and effeminising. Rough justice meted out by strong men appeals to them, and if they can't get it, at least the butch aura of the military will do. It is the lineal descendant of Andrew Jackson's explicitly ignoring the decision of the Supreme Court in the matter of the Cherokee, because the Common Man of his era was more concerned with getting those Indians' land than what some fancy book-learnin' guy had to say....

Amusingly enough, this is the sort of populism precisely against which American conservatism used to inveigh. It strikes against the justification for having any sort of government at all.

It also brings to mind the supposedly pivotal question Michael Dukakis was asked in 1988, about what he would do if someone raped and murdered his wife. He fumferred; he _should_ have said something like, '_I_ would kill him immediately, if I could, but the State, being so much more powerful than one man, is obliged to act more ethically and measuredly than that.' And it is, just so, should do so in this case.

Nov. 17 2009 10:13 AM
Paul from Brooklyn

I am so tired of hearing that we shouldn't try terrorists in NYC "because they'll use it as a forum" or "because that's what they want."

Who cares what the terrorists want? Why let their desires be the tail that wags the dog of our judicial process?

When John McCain was pushing the anti-torture legislation, he said, "It's not about them; it's about US. It's about who WE are, how WE behave, as a people, as a nation."

The same thing applies here. We shouldn't be making policy based on what KSM and others supposedly want; we should be making policy based on what's right under the rule of law. And the right thing, clearly, is to try them under U.S. law.

Nov. 17 2009 10:13 AM

Now we would rather not be reminded? Whatever happened to all those bumper stickers saying "NEVER FORGET"? Whatever happened to Bush telling us every five seconds that we're about to get attacked?

Nov. 17 2009 10:13 AM
RLewis from bowery

It's not about the Terrorists. It's about us - who we are as a people.

If we give these guys every break in the book, and they are still convicted, then we will know that we are on the right side of the law and history.

Forget about who they are, and remember who we are, and we are not vengence-filled savages.

Nov. 17 2009 10:12 AM

Actually, Hitler killed himself, but he would have been tried in an international court had he been caught alive.

I don't understand the argument that we shouldn't have the trial here because we're scared that we might be attacked again. Doesn't that mean that the terrorists are succeeding in terrorizing us? Isn't doling out justice in a Democratic way in the face of such a threat the best weapon against them?

Nov. 17 2009 10:11 AM
Robert from NYC (formally Hell and previous to that NYC)

It seems the GPO sends out a talking points memo to all members as to what stand to take. It's a bit tiring to hear it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over... get my point?

Nov. 17 2009 10:10 AM

Gosh, even Democrats can be concerned about an endless trial right in our backyard....I am.

Nov. 17 2009 10:08 AM
john from office

I lived Through 911, and ran from the dust cloud. I saw people die and most of the early damage. I expect my government to kill those involved in that act of war.
Anyone who thinks these beasts deserve rights as in a criminal trial is insane. The constitution is not a suicide pact. Would we have tried Hitler in federal court.
We are giving our enemies a chance to make us look like fools before the world.

Nov. 17 2009 10:06 AM
Susan from Yorktown Heights, NY

Excuse me--Minnesota.
No one wants to see peaceful Monnesota disrupted by this trial.

Nov. 17 2009 10:06 AM
Susan from Yorktown Heights, NY

I'd like to see the trial held somewhere in the "real America," Monnesota perhaps. It would give them a chance to use their Homeland Security money.

Nov. 17 2009 10:03 AM
hjs from 11211

i have faith in our justice system

Nov. 17 2009 09:30 AM
Anne Clark from New Jersey

Please ask Governor Kean to disclose his financial interests in homeland security

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Nov. 17 2009 09:24 AM

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