Suppose A 9/11 Defendant Is Found "Not Guilty"

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 16, 2009

What happens then?

“I am absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice,” President Obama said in Tokyo. “The American people will insist on it and my administration will insist on it.”

Yeah, but that doesn’t answer the question. Let’s ask it again: Suppose a 9/11 defendant is found “not guilty.” What happens then?

Attorney General Eric Holder brushed off the question, saying, “I would not have authorized the bringing of these prosecutions unless I thought that the outcome — in the outcome we would ultimately be successful. I will say that I have access to information that has not been publicly released that gives me great confidence that we will be successful in the prosecution of these cases in federal court.”

“Brush[ing] off the question” is not the same as “answering it.” Let’s ask again: Suppose a 9/11 defendant is found “not guilty.” What happens then?

We asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs what would happen if Ghailani is found not guilty?

Gibbs wouldn’t bite but the question is important. If he will be freed, that prompts questions of national security and whether civilian courts are as appropriate as other venues for such trials. If he won’t be freed despite being found not guilty that undermines the credibility of the trial.

“We will talk about what happens about a verdict when a verdict comes,” Gibbs said.

You get the feeling that either the members of the Obama Administration don’t know what the answer to that question is, or that they just don’t want to talk about it. I will leave it to readers to decide what is more worrisome.

  • GSD

    What happens if he's found innocent is that he encourages terrorism against us. But perhaps we should ask what the long-term consequences are of him being found guilty. That outcome will validate civilian trials for terrorists, which will also have dire consequences for us in the form of also encouraging terrorism against us knowing that they can plan their attacks so as to game the civilian system.

  • GSD

    What happens if he's found innocent is that he encourages terrorism against us. But perhaps we should ask what the long-term consequences are of him being found guilty. That outcome will validate civilian trials for terrorists, which will also have dire consequences for us in the form of also encouraging terrorism against us knowing that they can plan their attacks so as to game the civilian system.

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