A trial for Osama bin Laden could be a ‘Helter Skelter’ circus

Meanwhile, back where health care means you stay healthy and the other guy, or what’s left of him, requires care, there is a war on.

We know that because Attorney General Eric Holder is going all cowboy on Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden, you might recall, authors the occasional cryptic recording out of somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan or wherever he’s curled up with his pet goat to urge his fellow Muslims to do something nasty to the United States, to Great Britain, to Israel or whomever has wormed his way under the sheik’s increasingly jaundiced hide.

Americans are searching the high peaks of the region in which he might be hiding with seriously powerful scopes mounted on even more seriously powerful rifles, backed up with drones, listening devices and plenty of backsheesh greasing the palms of the local tribesmen.

Still, Holder, the nation’s top law enforcer, says it’s unlikely that bin Laden ever will be captured alive.

Pity, for a moment, the poor sharpshooter who merely nicks bin Laden with a flesh wound, enough to drop him, but not to kill bin Laden, and then neglects to dispatch the world’s most-wanted man on a one-way trip to Allah.

Bin Laden’s survival would be, uh, problematic, for Holder, who still is smarting after being caught making Miranda rights required reading for Farouk Abdulmuttalab, the guy who was unable to set off his Fruit of the Booms over Detroit back at Christmas.

Questioned in Congress (which is not incongruous, but darned similar) whether bin Laden would qualify for Miranda rights if he were to be captured by American military forces in a foreign land doing something nefarious, like breathing oxygen that could be put to far better use by most any septic bacillus of your choice, Holder was momentarily stumped.

The trained litigator spotted the clever political-legal trap and leaped, gazelle-like over the issue to declare the chances of such a dilemma coming to pass “infinitesimal.”

Never mind that success in the whole business of chasing bad guys of any stripe depends on the ability to anticipate and counter maneuvers whose probability of success is “infinitesimal.”

Of course, in the great scheme of things, the chances that a freaky-deaky bloodthirsty creep might lead a band of lesser life forms inspired by a Beatles song into a Hollywood house to kill six people, including a pregnant young starlet married to (an alleged) child molester, might also be considered “infinitesimal.”

The chances that Holder might compare bin Laden to Charles Manson — the aformentioned freaky-deaky bloodthirsty creep — probably also were “infinitesimal.”

But he did. Holder said terrorists in court “have the same rights that Charles Manson would have, any other kind of mass murderer. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to be coddled, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be treated with kid gloves.” Holder also said the possibility of catching bin Laden alive “is infinitesimal.”

Assume for a moment that bin Laden is alive, arrested, and brought to stand trial in the United States. Bin Laden would be able to follow the template set out by Manson.

He could shout, as Manson did, “I have no guilt!” He could, as Manson did, hack a swastika into his forehead. Or maybe a crescent. Bhurka-clad followers might disrupt the courtroom, as Manson’s groupies did, though without the bhurkas.

All in all, bin Laden could create a manipulative spectacle that would send Manson to shiver in shame in the corner of his cell.

In an open trial with competent representation before a jury of his peers — which would be who, exactly? Non-citizens? members of the violent Wahhabi sect? Why not Manson himself, given the attorney general’s comparison? — bin Laden could be acquitted.

Then what would Holder do? Turn him loose? Send him back to his mountain hide-out? To Saudi Arabia?

Of course none of that could ever happen. The chances are, what’s the word? Oh yes.



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