Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blind Justice

I notice that the trial of three accused terrorists has remained on-course to allow their self-described mastermind to coordinate their defense, whose stated purpose is to lead the men to their executions. In failing to sever the trials of the three men, the tribunal hearing the matter (it's unclear whether the procedures in place justify honoring it with the term court) seems to have invited the men to use the proceedings as a platform for the aggrandizement of their cause, rather than a platform for getting to the bottom of whether the accused did in fact commit a punishable offense.

The leader of the accused has had some success thus far. In the presence of media witnesses, he's interrupted proceedings with religions outbursts enough to get the fact noted in print, and has shamed and intimidated co-defendants from accepting the advice of counsel. Due to the procedures in place, specially-provided counsel would have access not only to conduct investigations impossible to a detainee in a high-security facility, but also access to evidence presumably deemed too sensitive to place in the hands of suspected enemies. By ensuring that none of the defendants have counsel, the ringleader assures himself of both an appearance of solidarity and a rejection of the entire system, which in turn is a valuable propaganda position for the men's presumed allies.

Supposing the three are convicted of some offense, it would be a mistake to allow them to goad the government into giving them the high-profile killing they seem eager to provoke. Especially if the three succeed in being tried together and avoiding effective use of counsel, some mitigating fact should be dreamt up by those conducting the proceedings to commute the sentence to something that will prevent their achievement of a media coup.

After all, a media coup is the only kind of success these terrorists seem to be able to achieve -- and is thus the thing thinking people should most work to deny them. If not ... well, when the movie comes out the US military will really look like a pack of dumb chumps. After all, it's not like this turn of events was exactly a surprise.

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