Byron York's Daily Memo: Why no justice for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

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WHY NO JUSTICE FOR KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMED? On March 1, 2003, CIA operatives, working with Pakistani officials, captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, commonly known as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. KSM, as he became known, worked with Osama bin Laden in planning the attacks, financing them, choosing the targets, and recruiting and training the terrorists who would carry out the mission. The evidence of this is irrefutable. There is simply no doubt that he is guilty.

Yet, KSM is alive today, a prisoner in the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On Saturday, he will be able to mark the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11. For him, of course, it will be a celebration.

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To give you an idea of how deeply involved KSM was in planning and carrying out the attacks, here is just one paragraph from the 9/11 Commission report, which describes KSM gathering the key hijackers and beginning their training in Pakistan. After rigorous instruction in close-quarters combat, KSM, who had studied in the United States, began to teach them about their targets:

KSM instructed them on Western culture and travel. Much of his activity in mid-1999 had revolved around the collection of training and informational materials for the participants in the planes operation. For instance, he collected Western aviation magazines; telephone directors for American cities such as San Diego and Long Beach, California; brochures for schools; and airline timetables, and he conducted Internet searches for U.S. flight schools. He also purchased flight simulator software and a few movies depicting hijackings. To house his students, KSM rented a safehouse in Karachi with money provided by Bin Laden.

When U.S. authorities captured KSM in 2003, they were intensely interested in learning everything he knew, not just about the 9/11 plot but about any other plans that might have been underway at the time. After all, the 9/11 attacks were the result of years of planning. What might KSM know about other plans? So CIA agents interrogated KSM repeatedly, subjecting him to waterboarding on somewhere between five and 15 occasions.

After the interrogations, the U.S. should have put KSM on trial before a military tribunal, at which he would have been found guilty. Shortly after that, he should have been executed. With that, justice would have been done. And yet, here he is today.

Year after year after year passed, and KSM was never tried. The prison at Guantanamo became the target of international condemnation, U.S. lawyers working on behalf of the terrorist inmates worked to slow the system, the intelligence community withheld information about the waterboarding and other practices — many factors combined to grind the administration of justice to a halt. But one factor overshadowed them all: The U.S. simply lacked the will to make sure justice was done, even after the worst attack in history on U.S. soil.

Now, a trial for KSM is supposedly in the works. But the old delays are popping up again. "No trial date has been set, and none is anticipated any time soon," reports NBC. It seems likely the system will become bogged down yet again, just as it has been for the past 18 years. So, if you ask when there will be justice for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the most realistic answer is: Never.

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