Monday, February 11, 2008

Poisoning our own tree: how ham-handed “interrogations” sanctioned by the Bush Administration could set the 9/11 plotters free

For someone who doesn’t believe in capital punishment, I can be pretty inconsistent when it comes to the people responsible for 9/11. Personally, I yearn to reproduce for them the last moments of some of their victims who, their clothing on fire, leaped from 90th story windows of the World Trade Center to their deaths to escape the inferno in their offices.

In my heart of hearts I would wouldn’t mind seeing the 9/11 plotters taken up in a helicopter to a height of 90 stories, doused with kerosene, dangled from a rope, set on fire, and then dropped to some rocks or concrete below. I know better than actually to advocate this, and I do not advocate that you advocate this. Nevertheless, in the darkest and angriest recesses of my thoughts, I yearn to see an eye for an eye, a flame for a flame and a fall for a fall.

That said, if the rule of law still works in this country, the 9/11 plotters currently in custody not only may escape the death penalty but walk free as well. Thanks to the Bush administration’s stubborn and stupid reliance on waterboarding and possibly other forms of torture, they may be sent home to attempt another 9/11 all over again.

This all has to do with torture and a long-standing principle of law that “fruit from the poisoned tree” may not be introduced as evidence. In other words, any evidence obtained illegally, or any evidence found in a search prompted by illegally-obtained information, may not be used as in a trial. To do so violates constitutional law.

It has been known at least since 2004 that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (left), one of the key 9/11 plotters in custody, was waterboarded.

Now, with charges finally being prepared against Mohammed, reportedly the mastermind of the 9/11 plot, and with the death penalty clearly on the table, a legal fight seems to be brewing that eventually may go all the way up to the Roberts Supreme Court.

When that finally happens, probably some years from now, it will be interesting to see which way the court goes. As we’ve just noted, Federal rules of evidence exclude not only evidence obtained under torture, but also otherwise-legitimate evidence found thanks to information provided by someone who was tortured.

How will the court decide? Will it set the bastards free? Or will it trash the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to bring the accused plotters to their deaths? Justice? Or freedom? To my knowledge America has never had to choose between them before.

Now, thanks to the Bush Administration’s cavalier attitude toward both, the future of American freedom as well as the future of these accused killers is in doubt.

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