Two quick comments on today’s New York Times editorial:
First, the Times begins with a remarkable normative assertion: “In bringing justice to those accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, it will never be possible to have military trials at Guantánamo that Americans can be fully proud of, or that the world will see as credible.” That’s right, even before any trial begins, even without knowing a thing about how it will be conducted or what it will and won’t allow, the Timesis prepared to declare it impossible that one could proceed without shame. The most we can hope for, it seems, is that the inevitable trial of “questioned legitimacy” might nonetheless avoid “an utter legal shambles and administer some justice.”
There is more than a little self-fulfillment in the Times‘ prophesy here. One of the reasons, after all, that a military commission for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his comrades has a legitimacy problem is that the New York Times makes such a point, over and over and over again, of insisting that a military trial will bring shame on the country. And if the newspaper of record loudly insists, over many years, that an institution has a legitimacy problem, that fact alone will tend to create one.
(photo credit: Paul Keller)