In a criminal case, the standard of proof for conviction is beyond a reasonable doubt. Whenever a major crime occurs, the media and the public demand answers as to what happened. Prosecutors want to make an accusation quickly, and if the case is a sound one they will secure a conviction.
But we don’t convict on the prosecutor’s story alone. We have to give the defendants a chance to present a case, call witnesses, and establish evidence that might acquit themselves of the act. The defendant or counsel has to have the right to confront the accusers and ask them questions. All of this has to take place in the public eye so that everyone can see that justice has been done, or when it has not.
What we are told in respect to the great crime that occurred in New York City five years ago this morning is that it was the work of 19 hijackers with box cutters. It’s alleged that they were orchestrating a plot created and funded by Al Qaeda, a shadowy terrorist group headed by Osama Bin Laden. Whether this is true, partially exaggerated or an imaginative tale is not within our ability to judge, we lack evidence. There are details that seem not to make sense. The collapse of World Trade Center 7. The disinterest of the administration in capturing Osama Bin Laden. But fundamentally the problem is that the official story was never proven in any court of law. There were no trials of anyone alleged to be involved, unless you count the bizarre confession of Zacarias Moussaoui which even the jury didn’t believe when it came time to sentence him.
All sorts of allegedly high level Al Qaeda operatives (a parade of number twos) were supposedly captured, but rather than being brought to justice as war criminals or tried in an independent tribunal of any kind, they were tortured. Not held as prisoners of war. No trial, no conviction. Tortured.
Now Bush says he’s moved some of these guys to Guantanamo, and he still won’t put them for trial unless Congress lets him use secret evidence and deprives them of due process to the extent that even military lawyers have balked to participate. Even though the Supreme Court has already said this is illegal. Even though the government’s evidence is presumably tainted by torture.
And on this basis, do you, the American people, convict?
Is it necessary that we believe it in order to forgive the war that was fought on the pretense of defending against terrorism? The war which was quickly focused on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a country which had nothing to do with the crime of five years ago even under the government’s own best case?
Why shouldn’t there be trials? Where is your standard of proof?
Why should we, or people anywhere in the world, believe this administration which lies as it breathes?
And for all the victims of the military might, will they look at us and say it was deserved? However convinced you personally may be by the propaganda you have seen, there has been no proof, and any theory is as unproven as any other. What you hear from the street in this country is nothing compared to what you might hear in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey. It’s pretty hard not to know what they think of us in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Without due process and conviction, there is no trust in the system.
* Related article: 9/11 truth and cannabis