Editorial: 9/11 trial location not the issue

In Editorials, Opinion

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, along with four other alleged conspirators held in Guantanamo Bay, were recently notified that they would be removed from the Naval base and sent to New York City to receive a civilian trial. They will be charged by federal prosecutors in a federal court, according to the New York Times.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed … ;” making the earlier plans for a military tribunal an obvious avoidance of the American justice system.

But if the jury isn’t impartial where the crime was committed, the defendant has the right to request the trial be held in a new location in hopes that the jury is objective before the trial starts.

Those who think that the accused will receive an unfair trial in NYC must consider the fact that Americans across the country are unified by their hate for those who caused the Sept. 11 attacks. It doesn’t matter where these men go for their trial; since it’s taking place in America, there is no guarantee of an unbiased jury.

Illustration by Jon Harguindeguy/For the Daily Titan
Illustration by Jon Harguindeguy/For the Daily Titan

The Andrew Gallo case in Orange County is an example of a change of venue being necessary. The Gallo case has received plenty of media coverage in North Orange County because he was involved in a fatal car crash that killed three and injured one while he was driving almost three times over the legal blood alcohol limit.

Among the victims was rookie Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and Cal State Fullerton student Courtney Stewart. People in OC will naturally have a bias against Gallo, so his lawyer has requested the case be moved to a new location in search of a relatively unbiased jury.

Gallo will have a better chance at a fair trial if it were moved. His crime didn’t affect many people outside of Southern California, unless they’re Angels fans. Therefore, the farther he travels away from OC, the better his chances are of getting an impartial jury and, thus, a fair trial.

But everyone in America can relate to the attacks that terrorized the Big Apple, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. It didn’t matter where you lived or what you were doing; during the drive to work, on every news channel, on every news Web site, the terrorist attacks were the story of the year, and reporters certainly focused America’s attention.

In the days following, airport security across the nation was tighter, and former President George W. Bush declared war on terrorists in Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 attacks almost four weeks later. The USA Patriot Act was spawned to give the government more leeway in its method of tracking terrorists while at the same time infringing on rights of privacy that were previously off limits.

Billions of dollars have been spent every year since then to fight terrorism abroad in the hope that it doesn’t spread to this country or others. The government is even allowed to keep track of books that are borrowed from a library.

These men potentially represent the reason why thousands of people died on Sept. 11, 2001. They could be the cause for many obligated changes in our country, for better or worse. If they really are the masterminds behind the attacks, their actions have in some way affected our lives.

That is why a change of venue will not give them a jury any less biased than the one they’re getting in New York City. Everybody has the right to a speedy and fair trial in the U.S., no matter how heinous their crime may seem. And if a fair trial warrants a change of scenery, such as in Gallo’s case, then by all means, move the trial.

Hopefully the requested change of location is denied, the Constitution is followed and these men will be tried in NYC.

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