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Chief Editorial

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:00 pm    Post subject: Chief Editorial
From Sun Dec 27, 2009 3:00 am to Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:59 am (included)
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A letter in the Chief advances several reasons why terrorists including Khalid Shiekh Mohammed should not be tried in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, including the cost of providing security, the possibility that this security will not be enough to prevent a terrorist attack pegged to the trials, and the chance that government secrets will be exposed. It concludes, "We don't have the time or money to coddle murderers!"
All these arguments have been made by others, including those who protested near the Federal Courthouse Dec 5th while demanding that those linked to the 9/11 attacks go before military tribunals, where the rules are different than in the court of law.
Some of them are legitimate concerns. Nonetheless, we agree with President Obama and activists like Jim Riches, a retired FDNY Deputy Chief whose son was killed responding to the terrorist attacks, that a Federal trial is the appropriate venue.
The notion that a fair trial is too good for those accused of mass murder is a misreading of how our justice system works. We routinely give such trials to those responsible for smaller body counts, but whose killings are even more vicious and depraved.
Yes, security will be costly and create significant inconveniences for those in the area. But the same arguments could be made regarding other, domestic killers whose followers are willing to take extreme action to prevent them from being brought to justice or to intimidate their jurors.We don't sacrifice the right to a fair trial on those grounds.
In extreme cases, a judge has the option to close a courtroom, either to prevent disruptions or to ensure that government secrets are not widely disseminated.
As Chief Riches has pointed out, far more terrorists have been convicted in our courts- including quite prominently the one at issue here --than in the military tribunals.
So long as the Federal Government is prepared to take the necessary security steps -- and pay for them-- we believe the trials should go forward as an important statement of what this nation believes, in difficult circumstances as well as under less stressful conditions.
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