What the KSM Trial Distracts Us From

It’s pretty clear by now that the 9/11 terror trials are going to be a media circus. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the subject today is packed with reporters. But the trial of five 9/11 plotters is, to some extent, a distraction from the larger issue of how we should deal with detainees.

This morning, the Washington Postappears to have broken a significant news story without really knowing it,” writes Marc Ambinder. The Obama administration will continue to detain as many as 75 terrorist suspects without charge. If they think the ACLU and other civil liberties rights groups will be happy with that, they’re dreaming. But the right is going to slam the administration, too: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alab.) is doing that now, saying that Obama’s moves show that “for the US fighting terrorism is not the priority it once was,” and that the administration thinks “we can return to a pre-9/11 mindset.”

The administration has chosen the worst of both worlds: it’s going to get hammered by the right for trying some terrorists and hammered by the left for not trying all of them. It’s not an enviable position, and it doesn’t seem to make much political sense.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.