From the Boston Globe, an editorial that voices something I have been thinking and saying since September, 2001:
ELEVATING A TERRORIST KILLER
March 16, 2007
IN HIS Guantanamo hearing, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed embraced the "enemy combatant" label that President Bush invented for Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects. That ought to make Americans wary of the novel judicial process there.
Mohammed, the self-identified military operations chief of Al Qaeda, admitted during a recent hearing before the Combatant Status Review Tribunal that he organized the Sept. 11 attacks and many other terrorist actions. In the transcript, he describes himself as a man at war, for religious reasons, with an enemy who has invaded Muslim lands. In his fractured English, he compares Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks to World War I, World War II, and the American war for independence against the British.
Killing, he argues, is the language of all wars. His implication is that his murdering of children and innocent civilians in the World Trade Center and the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing is no different from the conventional wars waged by nation-states.
Mohammed's attempt to normalize his despicable acts should be laughable, but it is furthered by the Guantanamo hearings -- a process outside both the American civil legal system and the Geneva Conventions . The special tribunals that Bush has conjured up are harmful not only because they deprive the accused of the fair trials guaranteed in American courtrooms and of the rights that a court-martial grants to US soldiers and foreign prisoners of war alike. The Bush tribunals also are misconceived because they elevate deluded fanatics like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into the imposing military foes they would like to be -- instead of the vicious political criminals they really are.
This is how Mohammed justified his terrorism: "We consider we and George Washington doing same thing. As consider George Washington as hero. Muslims many of them are considering Osama bin Laden. He is doing same thing. He is just fighting. . . . So when we say we are enemy combatant, that right. We are."
The guilt of the terrorist known as KSM could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in any civil courtroom or military tribunal sanctioned by the Geneva Conventions. By not giving him and other detainees a fair trial, Bush makes their case for the hypocrisy of the secular democracies. Many detainees picked up in Afghanistan had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and it is particularly embarrassing for Americans that Mohammed has to be the one to plead for them. Americans should not have to be told about injustice by a creature like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.