KSM to Go Free in White House Legal Error?
American civil and defense attorneys are bristling at the legal back-and-forth between the White House and the Justice Department. For the last month it has been widely reported that the Obama Administration was considering trying al Qaeda suspects tied to the September 11, 2001 attacks in military court. This would be a reversal of their earlier push to try the defendants in a New York City court.
While this move has been applauded by members of both the Republican and Democratic establishments, it has not gone over well with legal experts at both the Pentagon and in the Justice Department. According to one senior attorney speaking on terms of anonymity, the change in legal settings could set off a chain reaction leading to a mistrial.
According to American law, most changes of legal venues occur only after it has been determined that a suspect cannot receive a fair trial. If these suspects were American citizens, a change to another court would have been a simple matter. However, due to the legal changes regarding terrorist detainees put in place by the Obama Administration, this is not as simple.
"You have the al Qaeda suspects being presumed innocent until proven guilty," said one Justice Department attorney's aide, "If the trials are moved to Guantanamo Bay, the suspects' lawyers can legally challenge that the federal government changed the venue only to increase the chance of a guilty verdict."
If this is indeed the case, the Obama Adminstration would also be legally unable to return the trials to the original destination. Under these circumstances it is possible, but still not likely, that a circuit court could determine that the attempted changes constituted a miscarriage of justice and that the suspects would have to be set free.
While this situation is unlikely, it is still unsettling for many in the legal community, especially those who have been tracking al Qaeda.
"The chance of them being set free is maybe five percent." said our source at the Pentagon, "But five percent is still five percent too high."
Obama Administration officials have defending this course of action, claiming that the continuity of American justice during wartime was an utmost concern. Attorney General Eric Holder's office simply told one FOXNews affiliate simply, "Justice will be served."
Deepak Chardyia contributed to this report.
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