Tuesday, May 3, 2011


As a friend said, I'm not unhappy to see that Bin Laden is dead.  It's a good thing; for one thing, Lord knows how much damage he could yet do were he still alive and free.  But a SEAL team shooting a mass-murderer is not the same thing as justice.  Justice involves, you know, laws and trials and crap.  We don't generally say 'justice was done' when the police shoot someone that's shooting up a nightclub, we say something like 'we're safer now.'  Which is good, but it's not justice.

What makes the whole Bin Laden's death=justice talking point troubling rather than merely annoying is that we have the opportunity to enact justice for 9-11.  If US officials are to be believed, Khalid Sheik Muhammed was the mastermind of the attack, and we have had him in custody for the better part of a decade.  Trying him according to US law for the murder of nearly 3,000 people would be justice.  Just like trying someone for the murder of 1 person is justice.

Yet when the Obama administration proposed to do just this, to try Khalid Sheik Muhammed, the demagogues flipped out.  Apparently trying a murderer for his crimes isn't justice, it's letting him off easy*.  The American people, by many accounts, flipped out -- gallup polls showed opposition in most trial venues.  So rather than brave the demagogues and the mob Obama caved and agreed to try KSM with the same Kangaroo courts Bush was about to set up.  The demagogues/mob were somewhat mollified. 

Looking at the Bin Laden raid and the reaction from the very people who condemned the KSM trial, apparently a bullet to the head in a firefight is justice and a trial isn't.  I suspect the underlying logic is that since justice is served with a bullet, a trial is merely an indulgence to the accused that terrorists do not deserve.  Bin Laden's death is a good thing for the US and the world.  But the idea that it's the yardstick of justice in our efforts against terrorism is incredibly disturbing

*Someone should have told Himmler and Goebbels, had they known that Nuremburg was getting off easy and more than they deserved then they probably wouldn't have bothered with cyanide.

No comments:

Post a Comment