According to an article in Friday’s New York Times, President Obama may be changing his mind about holding the trial of 9/11 attacks mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in lower Manhattan, just blocks away from where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. The President sees having the trial in Manhattan as an opportunity to provide a poignant demonstration of American justice in action; however, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come to see it as disruptive and costly, and several U.S. Senators have argued that having the trial in New York would provide terrorists with a highly visible platform to celebrate their deeds and to recruit others to their ranks. If you were charged with determining where to hold this trial, what would you do?
Would you agree that it provides us with an opportunity that we should not miss to show the world our commitment to the rule of law, even (or perhaps especially) in cases where some be more interested in revenge than in justice?
Would you think, instead, that it would be exactly the kind of world-wide spectacle that those who seek to undermine our system would want?
Would you ignore the question of which side would benefit most from the spectacle and focus, rather, on the concrete disruptions and the real costs of providing the kind of security that would be needed to protect those who live and work in Manhattan during the trial?
Would you claim that we are dealing with enemy combatants and should hold a military tribunal rather than a civil trial?
Which, if any, of these factors seems most important for the decision concerning where justice ought to be served in this case? What would you do?