A remarkable thing happened today that didn't get the attention it deserved: Five alleged al-Qaeda terrorists who are in custody and most closely linked to the 9/11 attacks -- including the alleged planner of the attack, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- tried to enter guilty pleas at a military commission hearing at Guantanamo.
These terrorists don't just want to die anytime. Although there's virtually no chance this could actually happen, they'd love to die in the next 43 days.
While George W. Bush is still the president of the United States.
Because if anything strikes fear in the hearts of al-Qaeda, it's the things that could happen to them after Barack Obama becomes the commander-in-chief.
It's not torture. Just the opposite. They're afraid of a real, public trial, with regular rules of evidence, in the style of American justice that was once the envy of the world -- a trial that would reveal the slime of al-Qaeda and the sad details of its cowardly slaughter of innocent people on that day seven years ago. A trial that would be conducted on U.S. soil, and not at Gitmo, the symbol of what much of the world now considers to be an American gulag.
When Obama takes office, his task -- in this aspect of the war on terror -- is a little like the
where George (no pun intended) succeeds by doing "the opposite" of everything that's been done before. Bush got everything backwards -- in circumventing the American justice system to create Gitmo and the system of military tribunals, he and his helpers created a system that not only
and rallied our enemies, but even gave the terrorists a chance to seek martyrdom within a system that the world sees as morally wrong.
That would recruit more terrorists to their ridiculous cause and thus create more risk to innocent Americans and our allies all over the world -- the kind of risk that Bush and Dick Cheney so foolishly claimed that Guantanamo and its related abuses were reducing. Meanwhile, the family members of 9/11 victims -- like Alice Hoagland, the mother of Flight 93 victim
, who attended the hearing -- have been denied justice in any kind of legal proceeding in the years since Mohammed was captured. And justice deferred is justice denied.
And now we have pretty clear proof -- from the terrorists' actions today -- that what al-Qaeda really feared all along is what we would have given them before Bush and Cheney tarnished the Oval Office.