The torturous truth about Guantanamo�s 9/11 hearing
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Jun 6, 2008, 00:20

So, here we have Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in his first public showing since his 2003 capture, a man who has confessed to everything but the torching of the Reichstag now telling an American judge he doesn�t want his American legal team, that is, his Pentagon-appointed legal team. �I want to represent myself,� he said. How can that be?

Well, his first reason was religion. He said basically the he cannot accept any attorney who is governed by secular law, not the Lord of the law. In fact, in the face of the judge warning him he faced a death penalty, he welcomed the sentence with open arms; even said �Yes, this is what I wish, to be a martyr for a long time . . . I will, God willing, have this, by you.�

Again, for a guy whose had the masterminding of 9/11 as well as the killing of 2,973 innocents pinned on him (and his four alleged co-conspirators), that�s pretty tough talk. This while reporters from around the world were watching the hearing, with a 20-second delay, in a separate room in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in case any �classified information� erupts, or screams of rage or accusations of savage treatment slipped out. Is this why the courtroom�s soldiers must attend without weapons? We wouldn�t want any ugly flare of tempers.

Yet, Mohammed is described in a New York Times blog as wearing thick glasses, fussing with his turban or stroking his bushy gray beard, and looking noticeably thinner. Could it be the food, the tension, or the torture? Could that be the truth that would lead a man to prefer death over life, as his four cohorts do?

Here�s a guy up for conspiracy, murderer in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, terrorism, providing material support for same. Yet, he says he�ll bite the bullet without a lawyer. And in fact, for such crimes that involved civilians, shouldn�t he be tried in a court by civilians? But then the civilian courts have presented some torturous truths in trials.

The torturous questions

Those questions include whether waterboarding constitutes torture. Nah, it�s a great practice for swimming, diving and surfing. Next question: how will statements gotten by coercion be handled? I would say with kid gloves, and as much avoidance of the principles of the Geneva Conventions and all human rights standards as possible.

Otherwise someone might say this is another kangaroo court, like the one Zacharias Moussaoui was pushed through, what with a stun gun under his shirt, and a slavering Giuliani ready to depict him as a guilty fiend, which in psychiatric circles is called �transference,� given Hizzoner�s performance on that day and after, enriching himself on the disaster.

Next question: are detainees so psychologically damaged that they may not be able to assist in their defense? C�mon, what are these guys, softies? Just because they had to sit for years in tiny cells of barbed wire in the grueling sun with black hoods on their heads, shackles on their wrists and ankles, and were pulled by Marines from outside to god knows where out of sight for their daily diet of torture? What, are we going soft, too?

Question: and what are the rules of the trials to be? Well, gee, we never had anything quite like this before, besides Moussaoui and a few other enemy combatants, who have no rights by law, our law, anyway. Rules are for legit soldiers who wanted to kill us, like the Nazis or North Koreans or North Vietnamese.

Those guys were straight up soldiers; even though a couple of rags qualified for a uniform with the Cong -- and they seemed to vanish or appear out of the jungle, a doorway, a village like mirages. But they got theirs, 2 million dead in nearly 11 years, including civilians who they so often resembled. How were we supposed to know one from the other?

So, how do we know enemy combatants from �real soldiers,� by their expensive camo, bullet-proof vests and standard issue weaponry? Perhaps some of this latent hypocrisy led one accused's lawyer to say the trial was a �fundamentally flawed� process. That was Colonel Steven David, who swore to �zealously identify and expose each and every� hole in the prosecution�s case.

Save your time, Steve, the whole circus is a hole, a dark hole in space, a void that�s sucking away legal ethics, morality, constitutional justice, in one long moan, which is the reaction, too, of the world. Still another military lawyer, according to Bloomberg News, said the commission was �definitely not a search for justice on the merits of the case itself.� He noticed, that the accused have been tortured to a human pulp that�s asking for death.

Yet the government claimed evidence from torture sessions wouldn�t be used. But then there�s that old gray line between when somebody�s sparking your testicles and when they stop and when they start again, like when you say what they don�t want to hear. Aw shucks, no fun. And then there�s all that �hearsay� evidence from intelligence reports whose sources you will never see in a courtroom to face any kind of cross-examination. Are those the rules? Well!

We�ve got real evidence to convict the administration

My sources tell me that the George Bush administration was behind 9/11. Here�s what really happened. Based on not just hearsay, but a massive gathering of evidence, with real names and reputable faces attached to it, I think we should indict Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Richard Myers, Tenet, and Robert Mueller for starters. And if they won�t talk, hey, send them for a little waterboarding. Nah, just kidding, or am I? Cheney in chains, Dov Zakheim and all his Mossad friends in barbed wire cages, they�ll talk, eventually. And if they don�t, we have the goods on them right now.

Then they won�t want our lawyers as well. They�ll confess to everything because the pain they will be facing will make death look like a holiday. Maybe Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, a senior office in the Pentagon�s Office of Military Omissions (excuse me Commissions) will offer his vow to �follow the rule of law� when we try these criminals -- Emperor Bush and his Boyz.

And we the people will try not to rush the tribunal like Bush because his time is dwindling (you said it) like his number of days in office. No, we should take our time and enjoy sentencing the real terrorists, the real murderers of our people and our joy. We should do it like a slow dance on the killing ground, just the way they like it, when they go to meet their maker, the Maker of Law, like a group hanging in jolly old Elizabethan England that brought out the crowds for a good time. Here, here, get your souvenirs. Buttons, T-shirts, and pennants, manuals of torture, miniature pentagrams, get �em while they�re hot as hell.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York. Reach him at

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