After a Fair Trial, the Prisoner Will Be Executed

Journalist Michael Kinsley once said that “a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.”  I could quibble with the precision of that — some gaffes are untrue — but it’s a great line.  And by that definition, hapless presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs committed a gaffe this morning (hat tip for my  headline to  Tigerhawk):

Where he gets tried is still up for debate, but the White House thinks it knows what will happen when alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is convicted.

“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he’s going to meet his maker,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told John King on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning.

“He’s likely to be executed for the heinous crimes he committed,” he added.

Cue Mr. Rogers, the noted defense attorney: “Can you say ‘tainted jury pool’? Sure you can!”

I don’t know whether KSM will actually get executed or not, and I don’t much care — I have ambivalent feelings about the death penalty.  Here’s what I do know: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will never draw another free breath. In the highly unlikely event that a federal judge can be found who will dismiss the charges because of the waterboarding or an inability to seat an impartial jury, the administration will immediately rediscover the concept of “enemy combatant,” and will use that to keep the 9/11 mastermind on ice until his dying day.

The notion that KSM has all the rights of a civilian murder suspect is farcical, and in
homage to that farce the administration is willing to endanger Americans. This same desire to pretend we are not at war was behind the decision to give the FBI only 50 minutes with Captain Underpants before letting him lawyer up and hide behind the rights of a common criminal.