The Obama administration wants to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other Guantanamo detainees in federal courts—and that's a major mistake, says Michael Mukasey. Terrorism trials pose "overwhelming" security challenges, and classified information would have to be revealed, warns George Bush's relatively moderate third attorney general in a Wall Street Journal op ed. "The Justice Department claims that our courts are well suited to the task," he writes. "Based on my experience, they aren't."
Mukasey has particular experience with terror cases in civilian courts. In 1995, he presided over the prosecution of Omar Abdel Rahman for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. That trial, just like the trials for al-Qaeda's African embassy bombings, did nothing to prevent 9/11. For Mukasey, the insistence that closing Gitmo will bring instant goodwill rings pretty hollow. "In a war on terror—to use an unfashionably harsh phrase—courts should have, as the term 'war' would suggest, a supporting and not a principal role," he writes.