By Robert Wallace
In late 2000 Louis Pepe was a guard in the same New York facility where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will likely be housed during his trial. One of the prisoners was an alleged top aide to Osama bin Laden: Mamdouh Mahmud Salim. On November 1st, 2000 Salim and his cell mate attacked Pepe. As reported by Fox News:
The two had been granted permission by a federal judge to purchase hot sauce, says Pepe’s sister, which they then stored in a honey jar and used to create a blinding mace. Teaming up against Pepe, they beat and blinded him, covering the floor in his spattered blood. They then tried to rape him as he waited an entire hour for fellow guards to come to his aid, his sister said.
“They wanted to discredit the badge and what he stood for,” Eileen Trotta told FoxNews.com. “After they plunged him in the eye with that makeshift knife, they did the sign of the cross on his chest.”
As a result of his injuries, Pepe was blinded. He is also paralyzed on the right side of body and still has difficulties speaking.
The message from everyone to Obama’s administration to Bloomberg’s office to the federal Bureau of Prisons seems to be “don’t worry, we won’t let that happen again!” Similarly, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons said: “That was an extraordinarily brutal attack and I don’t believe they’ve experienced anything like that since then.”
Really? Nothing like that since then? That’s is supposed to make me feel better?
If terrorists used the same tactics again and again, they wouldn’t be very dangerous. I highly doubt that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Plan A is going to involve collecting hot sauce, just as failing to blow up World Trade Tower North in 1993 with a truck bomb didn’t lead to a repeat of the same strategy in 2001.
Terrorists are dangerous because they innovate, and the fact that the Bureau of Prisons is talking about the last attack on a guard makes me wonder about their capacity to protect against the next attack on a guard; an attack that will certainly use different tactics.
You could see this as an argument against bringing KSM to New York City for a civilian trial, but I see something bigger. As Pepe’s sister put it:
We’re such a lax country — we don’t learn from our mistakes. We have to protect our own, and at this point we’re not doing it.