Recently it was announced that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will be tried in New York City federal court, prompting controversy about whether Guantanamo detainees deserve to be treated by the procedures afforded U.S. citizens. As the Times reports, this trial will pose a number of new problems for prosecutors. For one, defense lawyers are certain to bring up Mohammed’s confession of guilt as inadmissible considering it was obtained under circumstances constituting torture. Another problem, as the article mentions, is that New York’s residents are very much anti-capital punishment.
As I see it, even though he will be tried so near Ground Zero, getting the death penalty for Mohammed is going to be tough for the prosecutors. What’s interesting is we see the first case, to my knowledge, of an ‘enemy combatant’ being tried in accordance with the laws of a country of which he isn’t a citizen. Even though statelessness is a common condition in today’s world and was taken to extreme conclusions by the Bush Administration’s policies, it poses huge difficulties for any legal system. As more people who had previously fallen through the cracks of the law into the status of ‘bare life’ (Agamben) are taken back in, cases like Mohammed’s will only become more prominent.