Paul A. Ibbetson
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: terrorist trial space for rent?
By Paul A. Ibbetson
March 11, 2010

The future of the public trial of suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is now in question. It could be said that the Obama administration's "It's on, it's off, maybe, I don't know?" stance on the war on terror has now created yet another mini-drama. If this president did not have to be commander-in-chief, an ample portion of Obama's and the nation's woes might very well be mitigated.

Right out of the 2008 election gate, Barack Obama has been working to accomplish the impossible task of maintaining public support while being an anti-war president in a time of war, or more aptly a liberal appeaser sent to defend this country against radical jihadists. This matchup was never going to be pretty, but it has turned out to be bizarre in an almost theater-like fashion.

One after another, Barack Obama and his supporting cast have presented to the American people a series of horrifying slapstick missteps in the war on terror. Early on, the president tells the world in a series of apology tours that our advanced interrogation techniques were "torture" and begs forgiveness for America's defense of itself. Next, he sets a closing date for our most secure terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay with no plan for housing the terrorists currently within its walls. Just to make that bad decision a little worse, I discovered through conversations with Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt on my radio program the Conscience of Kansas that as many as thirty of the terrorists from Guantanamo Bay being brought to the U.S. will likely be released within the U.S. populace. This is stomach-turning information to say the least; but even worse, these released terrorist detainees would be eligible for government aid such as welfare. My conversation with Tiahrt about his work on the No Welfare for Terrorists Act dating back to May 2009 simply highlights one of many painfully bad decisions of this administration. Unfortunately for the American people, having to pay the bill for terrorist detainees to get on their feet in their own neighborhoods is not the finale of Obama's sad drama.

Trumping the administration's ill-thought dress rehearsals of softening words pertaining to terrorism and their grandiose mental confusion on when the system "worked fine" versus when the system "worked terribly," as seen last Christmas, we have the issue of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In November 2009 Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the alleged mastermind of 9/11 and other conspirators would be brought back to the scene of the crime for the "trial of the century." The idea of giving terrorists of the magnitude of KSM the world's microphone to recruit new followers to Islamic Jihad through a long protracted public trial has never set well with the public. Jane Mayer of the New Yorker documented a gathering of several hundred in New York in December 2009 in which protestors to the terrorist trials, some family members of 9/11 victims, viewed Holder's KSM trial announcement. Adding insult to injury, by January 2010, the New York Times was reporting that the cost of the KSM trials would exceed more than 200 million dollars a year.

Whether or not it is a product of a lack of political support, growing negative public sentiment, or the huge financial burden, the Obama administration appears to be considering throwing the public KSM trial in the trashcan. What does this potential change in the administration's plans tell us? The answer is that we are more likely looking at the will of the American people than the thoughtful deliberations of this administration. If this is the case, this potential change would seem most positive and even worthy of celebration that the will of the people can still overrule poor decision making from Washington, right? Even my own personal yardstick for gauging when good things are happening in this country, when the ACLU is screaming of injustice, further begs the need for celebration, but despite this evidence I would urge pre-festival restraint.

Two reasons support holding off breaking out the cake and party hats. The first is that the KSM trials may still go forward if public sentiment decreases or if the administration decides they have passed the fool's point of no return on this national security blunder. The second reason with the furthest-reaching implication is that despite the final decision on the issue of the KSM trials, the world, and most notably our enemies can see very easily that this administration is more than weak; they are completely lost when it comes to fighting the war on terror. The coupling of liberal ideology with poor planning on major strategic decisions in this fight may very well spell a tragic end to The Barack Obama Show well before the curtain closes on his term as president. In the end, we should be happy if the future public trial spots for KSM remain vacant and are replaced with a military tribunal; however, it is far from an overall victory, as the same mentality that created these sad follies remains.

© Paul A. Ibbetson


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Paul A. Ibbetson

Dr. Paul A. Ibbetson is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelor's and Master's degree in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and his PhD. in sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of several books and is also the radio host of the Kansas Broadcasting Association's 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 award winning, Conscience of Kansas airing across the state. Visit his website at For interviews or questions, please contact


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