It was the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland that declared “Sentence first! Verdict afterwards.” However, President Barack Obama appears to have taken a lesson our two from her majesty. Today, President Obama assured Americans that they should not be offended by trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court because he will be convicted and executed. I will be discussing this story tonight on MSNBC Countdown.
In an interview with NBC News, Obama said those offended by the trial will not find it “offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.” He then appeared to recognize the impropriety of those remarks and said that he was “not going to be in that courtroom. That’s the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury.”
It is highly ironic that, in defending the noble decision to grant a fair trial to these men, Obama may have crossed the line in contributing to the prejudicial atmosphere against them. It is always a bad idea for a politician to comment on cases pre-trial. However, the greater damage may have been caused by Attorney General Eric Holder in his original press conference on the decision. The only thing missing from that transcript is a case caption to make it a formal motion for venue change. Holder specifically states that he wanted KSM tried a couple blocks from ground zero and wanted to give New Yorkers the satisfaction of trying one of the villains of 9-11.
I am not certain that such a trial will occur. If there is a case to be made for a venue change, this is it. Holder only magnified the need for such a motion.
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