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What will happen at KSM’s trial?

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is undoubtedly one of the most murderous people in U.S. custody today, a self-proclaimed terrorist "to the bone." He masterminded the 9/11 attacks and the 2002 Bali bombing. He has confessed to a number of crimes, and will go on trial in federal court for 2,973 counts of murder as well as ...

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is undoubtedly one of the most murderous people in U.S. custody today, a self-proclaimed terrorist "to the bone." He masterminded the 9/11 attacks and the 2002 Bali bombing. He has confessed to a number of crimes, and will go on trial in federal court for 2,973 counts of murder as well as terrorism and conspiracy charges, the Justice Department announced today. But because he was tortured, is the U.S. evidence against him inadmissible? Could the case be thrown out? Could KSM walk free?

Well, the U.S. and Pakistani forces who captured KSM on March 1, 2003, certainly didn’t read him his Miranda rights. (In his book At the Center of the Storm, former CIA director George Tenet says that KSM told his captors, "I’ll talk to you guys after I get to New York and see my lawyer.") He did not have access to legal counsel until after his months-long and utterly brutal interrogation, rendering what he said during his detention inadmissible. But the government is trying him in a federal court rather than a military tribunal precisely because the intelligence evidence against him is strong.

At a press conference today, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "I would not have authorized the bringing of these prosecutions unless I thought that the outcome — in the outcome we would ultimately be successful.  I will say that I have access to information that has not been publicly released that gives me great confidence that we will be successful in the prosecution of these cases in federal court."

It’s things like jury selection that might pose a thorny issue. Under U.S. law, prosecutors in the southern district of New York will need to find an impartial group of jurors to determine his innocence or guilt — a daunting task given KSM’s high and rising profile.

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