Press Drops the Ball on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Case

Last week, by chance I saw some of the highlights of US Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the decision to move Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several other of the 9/11 terrorist suspects’ trials to a court in New York. During his testimony, Mr. Holder was asked a pointed question by Sen. Lindsey Graham that, to my surprise, went missing from the Bay Area’s major newspapers’ following day coverage.

Sen. Graham asked Mr. Holder if the United States had previously tried an enemy combatant (who was picked up on the battlefield) in a US civilian court. Holder could not provide an immediate answer and said something about looking into it. Graham cut him off, said don’t bother to check, that he had the answer and that the answer was no.

On Nov. 19, the San Francisco Chronicle published Associated Press Reporter Devlin Barrett’s story on Holder’s appearance before the Senate Committee. Contained in the Chronicle’s run of the story was the following paragraph:

“But South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called the decision ‘a perversion of justice’ by putting wartime enemies into the civilian criminal court system. ‘We’re making history, and we’re making bad history,’ Graham said.”

The Mercury News also published Devlin Barrett’s story. But the above mentioned paragraph did not appear in the Mercury News’ run of the story.

How could the U.S. Attorney General not know whether or not there was a precedent for trying an enemy combatant (captured in a foreign country) in a US court? How could he make such a decision without that information? And if he did have the information, why didn’t he answer the senator’s question?

The question for the rest of us is, how can such an important issue escape press coverage? In their Nov. 17 editorial, the Mercury News implored its readers to “have faith,” that the trial for 9/11 suspects “promises justice.” Faith and promises? How about some facts first?

22 Comments

  1. > During his testimony, Mr. Holder was asked a pointed question by Sen. Lindsey Graham that, to my surprise, went missing from the Bay Area’s major newspapers’ following day coverage.

    Pete! Pete! Pete!

    If you are surprised that the mighty San Jose Mercury News would leave something significant out of their “news” coverage, you must have just fallen off the turnip truck.

    You must be among those who haven’t yet noticed that the Mercury News has not employed actual “journalists” for years, if not decades.

    All the journalists have been replaced with “mass communications” technicians and office clerks who merely cut and past the talking points and press releases from the Obama campaign, the SEIU, or the Sierra Club.

    Where in the Mercury, for example, are the stunning reports of the mammoth scientific fraud of the East Anglia University Climate Research Unit, the UN’s climate ventriloquist?

    No one sent the talking points to the clerks at the Merc.

    • One, Peter Campbell’s essay is devoted to asking one very excellent question.  How can a United States Attorney General be ignorant of the history of American military law?  As a older man who lived under Indian law, I know our Attorney Generals knew legal history well.  Yes, i am from India and work in San Jose.  As a father of good students in Santa Clara, I commend Mr. Poso for his comments about Mr. Robert Smith who has Indo-Americans have no place in our valley.  Mayor Reed and Mayor Mahan have made our community so welcome and I salute them.  This Save Santa Clara fellow has been saying Carl Guardino must villified.  Why?  Mr. Guardino is a great man and a leader for charity while Robert Smith is an agent of hate.

      • Peter Campbell has just made another comment, Daniel, that proves your point.  Campbell hits it right dead center about Holder.  Bravo!

        As far as your other points about this Robert Smith and Save Santa Clara, which apparently has attempted to hijack Peter’s very well argued points into attacking Silicon Valley CEOs, I do agree that Mr. Smith made comments about Indo-Americans and Chinese-Americans which were racially charged.  For the record, Peter Campbell has done an excellent job in stripping away the silly emotions about ethnic issues.  The bare facts and Pete’s history of laying them out is a refreshing change to blogging and I am glad Pete is around.  Paul Fong was brilliant in picking the right time to demand an apology for the hundred years of racial terrorism that we see manifest itself in groups like Save Santa Clara and Robert Smith.  Our nation will survive due to the slow and deliberate efforts of people like Campbell to demand the right answers to the right questions.

    • Mr. Campbell is right about the fact that the press ignores issues in this story.  There were hundreds of people who lived in OTHER countries who were killed during 9/11.  Press ignores this about favoring American courts.  If there is to be a trial, it should be like Nuremberg trial for ethnic terrorism and social bullying.  By the way, to say our Silicon Valley CEOS must be brought to justice for affordable housing, as has been said by Save Santa Clara, is also a matter of ethnic terrorism.

  2. It was a comment most likely made for the benefit of the voters in South Carolina rather than to make a serious contribution to the discussion. Graham was attempting to sidetrack Holder into an abstruse thicket of irrelevant legalese, but Holder was too smart to take the bait. The topic in general has been frequently discussed in the press for years now.

    The relevance to San Jose is that the Merc cut a paragraph from a wire service story and the Chron didn’t? Newspaper stories are written so that they can be edited to fit on the page.

    • But how can the conspiracy freaks rant about the “bias” of their favorite paper if they follow your logic? They say the Merc is biased so it must be true—even if they can’t factually back-up their emotional tirades. Please don’t confuse them with facts because it makes them even more irritable and irrational than they already are.
      This, of course, is written in the unbiased spirit of the holiday season where I wish goodwill to all people.

    • 10:
      “The topic in general has been frequently discussed in the press for years now.”  The decision to send these guys to New York was made two weeks ago.

      Re: “Holder was too smart to take the bait.”  Our Attorney General did not put on a very good performance.  He didn’t know the answers to several questions (or, didn’t want to provide them).  It was a very weak performance (surprisingly so).

    • 10 MHz Days,

      It’s hard to understand how any openminded person could simply dismiss Lindsey Graham’s concerns as “irrelevant”. Eric Holder’s startled expression certainly didn’t indicate that HE thought they were irrelevant.

      KSM may well be convictable without the use of anything he said after his detention which was presumably unaccompanied by a “Miranda warning”. However, the implications for the soldiers whom our Commander in Chief is sending to Iraq and Afghanistan is undeniable. Is it “irrelevant” to consider how this new characterization of battlefield detainees could affect the ability of our troops to carry out their duties?
      Far from looking “too smart to take the bait”, Mr. Holder’s expression resembled that of a deer frozen in the headlights, as it was painfully obvious to millions of Americans that the Attorney General had never really considered the implications of his decision until that very moment.

      • > It’s hard to understand how any openminded person could simply dismiss Lindsey Graham’s concerns as “irrelevant”.

        I disagree.

        It’s quite easy to understand.  His mind is SOOOO open that his brains fell out.

    • It certainly is; especially in light of the fact that thei lawyer has already said that they will use this as a forum to spew their hateful views.

      But after all, it is Barack Hussein Obama’s decision, isn’t he.  It is he who has given his imprimatur to these Islamic terrorists to disrupt the proceedings.  I wonder if he’ll show up and bow to them, as well?

      They need to be tried in a military tribunal under military rules…period, if they are tried in USA.  Or, ship the to The Hague for trial as war criminals and terrorists.

  3. I refer to the topic of whether there is any legal justification for making up a new category other than “accused criminal” or “prisoner of war”, and then asserting that the government can arbitrarily and extralegally place whoever it feels like into that category, a category to which the rule of law does not apply.

    I am rather relieved to have an Attorney General who believes in the viability of the judicial system.

    “Sen. Graham asked Mr. Holder if the United States had previously tried an enemy combatant (who was picked up on the battlefield) in a US civilian court.” It’s a meaningless question because “enemy combatant” is not a legal term, it just means anything Graham wants it to mean.

    If Holder had replied, for example, that the Nazi spy and sabotage ring led by Frederick Duquesne was convicted in a jury trial in Federal District Court, Brooklyn, New York in 1941, Graham could have then replied that the Dusquesne Ring were not “enemy combatants” according to his definition. Such pointless discussion could be endlessly extended.

  4. Don’t forget this is Lindsey Graham we’re talking about, folks. Not exactly the brightest light in the Senate and his only previous claim to fame was as a leader of the Clinton witch hunts. Why anyone gives this guy the time of day is beyond me. He is an undistinguished member of the world’s smallest club and that’s about it.

    • Nice try, Monica, to divert attention from the real story—Eric Holder’s bumbling lack of knowledge—by attacking Lindsay Graham.

      Jeez, and you thought Dubya’s AG was a doofus.