Bloggers on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's trial.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
June 6 2008 6:05 PM

So, You Wanna Be a Martyr

When Slate started publishing Today's Blogs in 2005, our slogan was "5 million blogs in five minutes." Today, Technorati counts more than 100 million blogs in cyberspace. However ambitious it might have been to try to sort out the best of what was out there in 2005, such explosive growth is more than we can keep up with. So it is with much regret that we are retiring the column from Slate's daily rotation. We've enjoyed bringing you "Today's Blogs" and thank you for reading.  

Bloggers respond to Khalid Sheik Mohammed's request to be killed, and to suggestions—made most plangently by Geraldine Ferraro—that Barack Obama absorb Hillary Clinton's campaign debt.

So, you wanna be a martyr: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind ofthe Sept. 11 terror attacks, told the military judge in his war crimes trial that he wished to be put to death as a martyr. "In Allah I put my trust,'' the al-Qaida plotter told the tribunal, reciting from the Quran. He also rejected a court-appointed attorney, preferring to represent himself; and said he put his juridical faith in Sharia law, not the U.S. Constitution, which permits "same sexual marriage and many things that are very bad."

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James Gordon Meek at Counterterrorism Blog "was in the courtroom for a tour last night and sat in the courtroom observation gallery this morning with about 30 other civilians, who were the first people outside the U.S. government to lay eyes on the defendants since the CIA took custody of them years ago. It was damned chilling to see Mohamed, known as KSM, laughing and holding a thugs' reunion in the courtroom."

Allahpundit at Hot Air says Mohammed should be tried and allowed to rant and rave about whatever he likes: "Here's a useful rule of thumb to help you decide, in bien pensant fashion, what does and doesn't constitute a jihadist propaganda victory as the process goes forward. Executing this pig as he so richly deserves is a jihadist propaganda victory because it grants him the martyrdom he seeks. … The true worry would be if he tried to play it sane, with all the defense-counsel trimmings, as a ploy to suggest that his ilk are more reasonable and coherent in their grievances than they've been given credit for." But righty Pat Gray wants to give him what he wants: "Martyrdom for Khalid won't make our enemies hate us any worse than they already do, and I could care less what they think of us anyway. This monster does not deserve to share the same air with the rest of the world."

Emptywheel has fun with Mohammed's discovery of the gay marriage clause in the Constitution: "[W]hat if we said to all the homophobes out there that the quickest way to ensure they get to kill KSM is to permit gay men and women to marry nationally? What would they choose if they had to choose between sharia-like legal prohibitions on love—but they'd have to settle for life imprisonment. Or, they could let a lot of people who love each other marry, and in exchange they could have their dead terrorist?"

And Ashby Jones at the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog reports that KSM wasn't too happy with a sketch artist's rendering of him: "Mohammed, once a big shot in al Qaeda, pronounced one sketch acceptable. But the second—a close up of him and co-defendant Walid bin Attash—got his nose completely wrong, Mohammed declared. As a guide, the artist should use the FBI photo taken upon his 2003 capture in Pakistan, the alleged terrorist mastermind helpfully suggested."

Michael van der Galien at PoliGazette notes: "As an aside, the traditions—or Hadith—of Islam's Prophet Mohammed teach that when one of the Muslims was basically begging to be killed in battle so he could become a martyr, the prophet was not exactly positive about it. But details like that are frequently ignored by Muslim extremists."

Read more about Mohammed's death wish.

Paying the bills: Hillary Clinton will look to Barack Obama to help her pay off her $30 million campaign debt, including the money she lent herself from her own pocket. Geraldine Ferraro, a staunch Clinton supporter, also likes the idea that Obama pick up the tab.

Joe Sudbay at AMERICABlog fumes: "It's beyond pathetic that Geraldine Ferraro is riding another wave of fame. … But, honestly, no one cares what she thinks. Every time she opens her mouth, we just have more opportunities to mock her. She's already become a regular laugh line. And, she continues to demonstrate that she doesn't have a speck of class."

"Seriously, how is it Obama's responsibility to pay off Hillary's debt?" asks J.W. Stickings at the Reaction. "It's not his fault that she can't pay her bills (including staff salaries), or at least would need to raise a lot more money to pay them."

Cafepolitico isn't happy with Ferraro's hectoring either: "Sadly, I think it's just another chance to get noticed, make her rancor known and pour salt in the wounds of supporters of both Clinton and Obama—something which the democratic party simply does not need right now—in fact, Ferraro has signaled that she may not vote for a Democrat in November because according to her, Obama is a 'sexist.' So much for unity and trying to strengthen the Democratic Party."

Eric Kleefeld at TPM Election Café explains: "For the sake of clarity, it's worth pointing out that the Obama campaign cannot directly give money from its own treasury to the Clinton camp. Instead, Obama would ask his top fundraisers to help bring in the money, and likely send out e-mails to his much-praised list of small donors asking them to give Hillary a hand." Justin Gardner at the bipartisan Donklephant doesn't think it's such a bad idea after all: "I know a lot of Obama supporters are wholeheartedly against this, but let's remember that Hillary owes a lot of small businesses money, and without Obama's help they could be out of luck. For that reason alone, I think this makes sense, and may be one of the main reasons Hillary was threatening to stay in the race in the first place."

Read more about Clinton's debt wrangling.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.

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