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Justice and the enemy: A look at the upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed


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President Obama created controversy when he pledged to try self-described 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court in New York City and then reversed paths last year, announcing that Mohammed and four other suspects would be tried by a military commission at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay. The trial is expected to start sometime this year although no date has been confirmed. Longtime journalist and author William Shawcross takes a nuanced, historical look at Mohammed’s upcoming trial in his new book and what it says about the balance between justice and national security in the United States.

Shawcross reviews the case against Mohammed, placing the trial in a larger narrative that points to lessons from the military tribunals at Nuremberg after World War II, led by Allied forces against principal architects of Germany’s Nazi regime. He draws from the experience of his own father, Hartley Shawcross, who was England’s lead prosecutor at the trials. “I am confident that the trial of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed et al, conducted by General [Mark] Martins, will be seen to be fair and appropriate. It will protect both the rights of the defendants and the security of the United States and its people,” writes Shawcross.


What are your thoughts on constitutional values during wartime, such as the case with the trial of Mohammed and other accused 9/11 initiators?


William Shawcross, journalist and author of “Justice and the Enemy: Nuremberg, 9/11, and the Trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed”