The U.S. District Court for the Southern District is more than able to handle such a trial, and we have no doubt that a reliable and competent jury can be put together for what is expected to be a lengthy hearing of the evidence against these men.
But the greater question is the ability of Lower Manhattan itself, including the various other courts, to handle the unprecedented security surrounding an event such as this.
We speak with more than a little local knowledge in this regard being ourselves located in the lower reaches of Manhattan. The area can be a stressful place to negotiate, even on a quiet day.
As stated, we have no issue with a civilian trial. Some who are calling for military tribunals are giving off the impression, or sense, that such courts are more efficient, or more likely to return guilty verdicts.
This is not the case. No less so than civilian courts, military panels are required to comply with the Constitution and judge cases with fairness and impartiality. They are not kangaroo courts.
Again, we speak with some degree of familiarity with regard to the manner of trial. Over the years, the Echo, and many groups and individuals by ways of its pages, have taken issue with the use of Diplock non-jury courts in Northern Ireland.
The fear that somehow these accused are going to walk free if their cases are left in the hands of the civilian court system is understandable, given what occurred on September 11, and given the sense of outrage that is still felt to this day.
But the fact remains: we hold ourselves to a higher standard, indeed the highest standard, in the administration of justice. This trial will be a test of our faith in this regard but, we believe, a test that the system will pass.
That passing, however, should occur in a place other than the congested streets of Manhattan’s southern tip.