What the KSM Trial Distracts Us From

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It’s pretty clear by now that the 9/11 terror trials are going to be a media circus. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the subject today is packed with reporters. But the trial of five 9/11 plotters is, to some extent, a distraction from the larger issue of how we should deal with detainees.

This morning, the Washington Postappears to have broken a significant news story without really knowing it,” writes Marc Ambinder. The Obama administration will continue to detain as many as 75 terrorist suspects without charge. If they think the ACLU and other civil liberties rights groups will be happy with that, they’re dreaming. But the right is going to slam the administration, too: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alab.) is doing that now, saying that Obama’s moves show that “for the US fighting terrorism is not the priority it once was,” and that the administration thinks “we can return to a pre-9/11 mindset.”

The administration has chosen the worst of both worlds: it’s going to get hammered by the right for trying some terrorists and hammered by the left for not trying all of them. It’s not an enviable position, and it doesn’t seem to make much political sense.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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