In the trial, the terrorists will almost certainly base their defense on the concept of "defensive Jihad." They will argue that the Islamic world was acting in self-defense in retaliating. They will give a long list of real or alleged American misdeeds, long lists of civilians killed (in Aghanistan alone they could come up with thousands), alleged sufferings during the embargo on Iraq when Saddam Hussein was rejecting his commitments after the Kuwait war.In the immortal words of the president's spiritual mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, "not God bless America, but G**D*** America."
This defense will inflame large numbers of Muslims. It will provide a great platform for the defensive Jihad theory which, most recently, persuaded Major Khalid Hasan to kill 13 American soldiers. There will be specific terrorist attacks inspired by the speeches made in New York. People will join Islamist and terrorist groups, not necessarily al-Qaida, as a result of this inspiration. You can bet on it.
In addition, the high-profile of the trials could well inspire terrorists to seize Americans as hostages to exchange for the imprisoned Jihadists. The terrorists don't have to expect the United States to make such a deal. They want the publicity and will be quite happy to kill the hostages and blame it on the Americans' stubborness.
The Arab regimes won't like it because the defendants will spend a lot of time blasting Egypt and Saudi Arabia as American puppets and urge their overthrow. Of course, the terrorists will bring in Israel, too. It will be interesting to see how much time is devoted to each of the many topics they will use to attack America.
Naively, the Administration apparently believes that this show of American fair play, equal justice for all, innocent until proven guilty, trial by a jury of their peers (if the entire jury isn't Muslim, of course, most Middle East Muslims won't accept that notion), and the rules of evidence will impress Muslims worldwide about how great a system the United States has and what great people Americans are.
Yes, a few highly educated liberals will write about such things but that will appeal to less than five percent. By the time the trial is through the masses to a large extent will not conclude that the defendants are dastardly people who murdered 3,000 innocent victims but that the prosecutors and the government behind them are dastardly villains who murdered millions.
I pray that Professor Rubin is wrong, but I fear that he is right.
This trial has risks, but not likely to the extremes this blog entry suggests. And it could hardly be the terrorist recruiting tool our war in Iraq has manifestly done, even if you don't count the prison scandals there. And since when should we not do the right thing or act like good Americans because it could be costly? I think we can trust our criminal justice system. Besides, the defendant has already plead guilty to the crimes with which he is charged.
To do this trial in our own justice system is proof, isolated as it perhaps is, that the terrorists have not made us change who we are, have not brought us down toward the level on which they operate.
Gil, I would agree with Robert about the Iraq war, and I would add that America's moral standing in the world has been severely compromised not just by the prison scandals themselves but by our failure to bring those responsible to justice.
What are your own views about the torture policies of the Bush-Cheney years? Do you think President Obama has made any progress in this area?
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