As is often the case, reactions to the Ahmed Ghailani verdict from Left and Right are poles apart. The Right is furious that Ghailani was acquitted of terrorist acts to which he had confessed under torture. In their twisted little minds, this proves civilian trials for terrorist suspects are a failure, because they cannot be counted on to produce the desired outcome.
Liberals, of course, see the verdict as proof that a Muslim accused of terrorist acts can get a fair trial in America. My Buddy the Talking Dog writes,
I for one
welcome our new ant overlordsam proud of my fellow New Yorkers who served on the jury, for doing the highest service our justice system can do: be fair to the most hated man around, in this case, an accused mass murderer, by carefully assessing the case before them, rather than, as virtually all our politicians seem to do, relying on prejudices or propaganda or expedience. Obviously, this is what our politicians are most afraid of, and why the Ghailani trial will probably be the last of its kind.
Alas, conventional wisdom says the Dog is probably right — this will be the last civilian trial for terrorism suspects. The rest of the terrorism suspects at Gitmo very likely will be tried out of sight, and without the unpredictable factor of an impartial jury, so that the “correct” verdicts can be produced. Or, at least, that’s the theory. Glenn Greenwald says that the current rules governing military tribunals require exclusion of the same torture-obtained testimony that the civilian trial excluded
Ghailani was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to blow up a government building, for which he will serve 20 years to life, so it’s not as if he’s going to be set free with a gift basket and note of apology.
Here’s an interesting reaction from the rightie blogger Blackfive:
Terrorists 279 America 1
This was the test case the Obama team wanted to use to prove that they could pull off civilian trials. They accepted that much of the information they had tying this clown to the bombings wouldn’t be used, like his confession for one. They assumed that their smarty-pants lawyers could play a RICO conspiracy tale and they would convince a jury to ignore the gaping holes in their case because we knew this guy is a terrorist. This mentality was readily apparent when they started discussing the KSM case and trying him in NYC. Holder, Obama and Gibbs all basically said it would be a show trial and conviction was already in the bag.
Let’s see if we can deconstruct this. There were “gaping holes in the case,” the guy says, but we “know” he’s a terrorist, and the trial was supposed to find him guilty in spite of those gaping holes. The blogger is derisive of the Obama Administration for failing to deliver an allegedly promised “show trial.”
In other words, we are to stage some Justice Theater to keep up appearances, but no honest verdict or lawful procedures can be allowed.
The minimum sentence that he can receive is 20 years. This is a lot more than MANY of the sentences that have been obtained at Gitmo.The average sentence has been much shorter for convictions that happened at Gitmo. Remember Khadr? Hicks? Hamadan We had 850 detainees there most have been let go by the military. We just read that the last ones that were released back to the UK will now be all receiving fat payoffs from the UKs new conservative government.Pesky things like the Geneva Conventions and the US Constitution seem to be troublesome sometimes.
Indeed. It may be that the only substantive difference between accused terrorists tried and acquitted by a military tribunal and an accused terroroist tried and mostly acquitted by a civilian court is that the military tribunals don’t get the press coverage that a public trial in New York City gets. And also it’s harder to bash the Obama Administration for what a military tribunal does.
BTW, a news story says that 534 prisoners have been “moved out” of Guantanamo Bay, but I can’t find how many of those were released and how many were transferred to facilities in their home countries. If anyone else can find that figure, I’d like to see it.
The same news story also says that some of the released Gitmo prisoners have “returned” to terrorist activities, but there’s no way to know if the former prisoners were really “returning” or if they were originally innocent but became radicalized at Gitmo.
Anyway — the real failure, as far as justice is concerned, is that because prisoners were tortured they cannot be tried properly, which puts the United States in a very ugly position. Essentially, we have little choice but to either let them go or keep them locked up indefinitely without trial. And lots of people tried to explain that to the Bushies, but the Bushies wouldn’t listen.