Glenn Garvin, Late and Wrong

Glenn Garvin’s column today presents a case study in what is wrong with op-eds in local newspapers.First, he’s picked a topic with no local angle — the trial of KSM in New York.

Being a national story, this topic has been discussed at length in newspapers and blogs and on TV ever since Attorney General Holder made the announcement two weeks ago.

Indeed, I covered it a week back on November 24.

So, if you are going to approach a topic that is several media-cycles old and which has already been the subject of tremendous debate and analysis by every major national columnist in this country, you need to bring something new to the table.

Needless to say, Garvin fails.

Instead, Garvin offers a deeply flawed and inaccurate understanding of how the criminal justice system works, with absolutely no reference to the successful terrorist prosecutions that have occured in this country, such as John Walker Lindh, Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui, Ali al-Marri, Jose Padilla — all tried under the Bush Administration btw.

Garvin’s gloom and doom and fear-based arguments are too silly to get into, and have already been addressed dozens of times by knowledgeable lawyers such as former Bush AGs Jim Comey and Jack Goldsmith.

The larger point has to do with the newspaper business. If you are that late to a story, you have to approach it like Time Magazine, The Nation, or National Review — deliver some analysis, synthesis, commentary that reflects a point of view or which has been lacking in the day-to-day coverage thus far.

Can anyone reading Garvin’s column today — including his editors — say with a straight face that Garvin has added something (anything?) meaningful to the discussion?