Representatives face to face with the evil of KSM

Houston Chronicle:

Rep. Michael McCaul called the moment chilling and eerie. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said she froze in place. And Rep. Pete Olson stared through the one-way glass, thinking, “My God, that’s the man who planned the attacks.”

There he was in a stark cell at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, kneeling on a prayer rug, head bowed, wearing the white cap of faithful Muslim men worldwide.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 44, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 al-Qaida attacks on the United States, appeared thinner than in the photos taken the 2003 night of his capture in Pakistan.

But from what three members of Houston’s congressional delegation observed and were told during a one-day tour of the Guantanamo Bay facility, Mohammed appeared every bit as bent on America’s destruction as the day he orchestrated the synchronized suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

The lawmakers said they did not speak with Mohammed after they observed him through a one-way glass. They were given a wide-ranging tour of the prison on Monday, including a rare look at its most restrictive corners.

The visit, cleared by Attorney General Eric Holder, was part of the Obama administration’s new public relations campaign to show human rights advocates that all 241 prisoners are being treated humanely. Holder toured the prison separately on Monday. The visits also appeared designed to help the White House buy time until President Barack Obama decides what to do with the prisoners after the facility is closed early next year.

Mohammed, who has filed claims that he was tortured, apparently had no idea that he was being observed.

“It was eerie, kind of spooky, and it exuded evil to me,” said McCaul, a Republican whose congressional district stretches from Houston suburbs to Austin.

“I was riveted,” said Jackson Lee, a Democrat. “It became very, very real and sobering to me that our task dealing with terrorism is still ongoing.”

Olson, a Republican and former Navy pilot, said it was “an eye-opening experience” to see the American-educated Muhammad and other senior al-Qaida leaders awaiting military tribunals.


Perhaps Holder is going to make a decision to keep these guys at Gitmo. I hope so. It makes no sense to bring to this country. While we might get some satisfaction from a public trial, I tend to doubt it. I still think the military tribunals are the way to go if we try them at all. In the meantime we can hold them as enemy combatants until the end of the war with al Qaeda.


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