KSM, Accused 9/11 Plotters to Face One Less Charge
Move reveals 'flaw' in military tribunals
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2013 9:48 AM CST
In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed holds up a piece of paper during a court recess at his Military Commissions pretrial hearing.   (AP Photo/Janet Hamlin, Pool)

(Newser) – The five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks will now face seven charges instead of eight, after the chief prosecutor yesterday moved to withdraw a conspiracy charge that he believed might not hold up on appeal. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants still face charges that include just shy of 3,000 counts of murder, so the change won't reduce the potential sentence—death—that they'll get if convicted. But the dismissal is notable in the "legal flaw" it reveals, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The key issue is that military tribunals' jurisdiction doesn't extend beyond war crimes. Other recent convictions (including the August 2008 conviction of Osama bin Laden's former driver for providing material support to terrorism) have been overturned upon appeal because the charge wasn't considered a war crime under the standards of international law when it occurred. And that could put other Gitmo cases at risk. The Journal notes that a number of "lower-profile" Guantanamo inmates were charged with conspiracy because it's fairly easy to prove, and because there's a dearth of evidence linking many of them to a particular attack. The Obama administration is considering an appeal of the appeals court ruling in the aforementioned case.

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Showing 3 of 6 comments
Jan 10, 2013 4:23 PM CST
I guess our attorneys had better get their act together , study their law books, so we don't end up losing the whole ball of wax!!
Jan 10, 2013 12:51 PM CST
When bush.cheney,rice and rumsfeld all said Osama Bin Lauden was the mastermind behind 9/11 they all were lying. What else were they lying about on 9/11, everything!
Jan 10, 2013 12:39 PM CST
Lets make a blunder and torture and put to death these scum of the earth without due process. Are you kidding me. They are living a life in jail better than they could've imagined in their piece of shit country. I don't know who to have more disgust for. The terrorists or our stupid bleeding heart sense of justice. Send them to my house and I'll treat them like they would be treated in their own countries judicial system. Give them one last meal of goat cheese, and send them off to frolic with their 27 virgins.