Rule of Law–Who Cares?

One of the odder outbreaks of outrage from conservative pundits is the horror expressed at the idea that people accused of being connected to the September 11 attacks would actually be put on trial. Here’s Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson (11/18/09) on Attorney General Eric Holder’s “destructive” decision to prosecute Khalid Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects in an actual court:

There is one serious argument for this course: that a civilian court will provide greater legitimacy for the imposition of the death penalty than a military tribunal. But the guilt of these terrorists is not in question. And it is difficult to imagine that those repulsed or impressed by Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s confessed crimes will care much about the procedures surrounding his sentencing.

Gerson seems to be saying in that last sentence that nobody actually cares about the rule of law. That’s not literally true, of course, but from the vitriol expressed toward the idea of defendants having constitutional rights, you do get the idea that its stock is at a low ebb.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.