In re: the cases of those allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the other worst cases of terrorism against the United States, the question, plain and simply, is whether we in the United States are afraid.
Do defiantly admitted 9/11 mass murderer Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other defendants who will be tried in a New York court cause us to be so spooked by the threat their lunatic associates will attack, we are not able to properly adjudicate these matters at the scene of the despicable crimes?
Are we so scared we cannot defend our recent past actions we must continue to make exceptions to the normal proud legal traditions and go on rendering our punishments largely out of sight in an isolated prison in a remote part of Cuba or in other hell holes around the world?
Are we so unwilling to expose the abuse at Guantanamo, on what the world views as a "Devils Island" that we can't convene proper open trials in US courts?
Is our evidence gained there and elsewhere so tainted by torture and ineptitude that our legal system cannot not administer justice in these matters?
In fact, are we willing to continue operating Gitmo because we are paralyzed by fear that our security forces and detention facilities here at home are not up to the job of any longer protecting against dangers to our way of life?
The fundamental issue as the controversy spreads over bringing some of this country's worst enemies to justice is whether it is possible to continue that "way of life" which includes due process, administered with fastidious fairness. Under our professed system, even the worst criminal monster is entitled to that.
Is it time to escape the grip of fear? It has caused the United States to lose her way following the 9/11 attacks and descend into brutal expedience when it was easier than maintaining the principles that define who we are.
It is tough to defend a true democracy. It is often tough just to BE a true democracy and reconcile strength with our ideals. The alternative is being motivated by fear, which is just what so many advocate we continue to do.