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Since the Nuremberg Trials of 1945, lawful nations have struggled to impose justice around the world, especially when confronted by tyrannical and genocidal regimes. But in Cambodia, the USSR, China, Bosnia, Rwanda, and beyond, justice has been served haltingly if at all in the face of colossal inhumanity. International Courts are not recognized worldwide. There is not a global consensus on how to punish transgressors.
The war against Al Qaeda is a war like no other. Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda's founder, was killed in Pakistan by Navy Seals. Few people in America felt anything other than that justice had been served. But what about the man who conceived and executed the 9/11 attacks on the US, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? What kind of justice does he deserve? The U.S. has tried to find the high ground by offering KSM a trial -- albeit in the form of military tribunal. But is this hypocritical? Indecisive? Half-hearted? Or merely the best application of justice possible for a man who is implacably opposed to the civilization that the justice system supports and is derived from? In this book, William Shawcross explores the visceral debate that these questions have provoked over the proper application of democratic values in a time of war, and the enduring dilemma posed to all victors in war: how to treat the worst of your enemies.
Shawcross (Deliver Us from Evil), son of the chief British prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, considers the legal and political issues surrounding the detention and trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. The Nuremberg trials, which introduced the concept of "crimes against humanity," became the precedent for postwar justice, highlighting the difficulty of properly prosecuting "those who commit hideous and unprecedented crimes." Using the judgment of Justice Robert Jackson, the lead American prosecutor at Nuremberg, as a guide, Shawcross explores what form of justice the al-Qaeda defendants should receive, the pros and cons of military versus federal courts, the admissibility of evidence gained under the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques," and the differing policies of the Bush and Obama administrations regarding "unlawful combatants," the Geneva Conventions, Guant namo, and justice. He takes liberal-leaning groups like the ACLU to task for their zeal in defending (and delaying the military trials) of "Islamists who wish to destroy western society," and finds his native Britain becoming a dangerous breeding ground for Islamist extremism among young Muslims. Concluding that prisoners will have far greater right in military tribunals now than they did at Nuremberg, this thoughtful, passionately right-wing study underscores the thorny difficulties the U.S. has faced in bringing the September 11 attackers to court.