Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gitmo "Test Case" Gets a Failing Grade

A civilian jury in New York has convicted former Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Ghailani on a single charge in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He was found guilty only of conspiracy to destroy government buildings.

The jury did not see fit to punish him for the 224 people who were destroyed along with the buildings.

Ghailani was originally charged with 286 counts when the USG brought him to New York City for a civilian trial, in what was described as a test case of the Obama administration's intention to try terrorists outside of the military tribunal system.

Ghailani (see his detainee biography) helped an Al Qaeda cell buy a truck and components for explosives used in the bombings, after which he fled to Pakistan, where he was captured ten years later.

Here's a summary of the evidence that the military justice system developed against Ghailani, and the transcript of his military tribunal hearing.

I'd say that test case was a spectacular failure.


Rob Pugh said...

Only because the judge didn't allow any evidence obtained through torture to be presented. As would've any head of a military tribunal, if they follow the regs.

Sadly, I doubt anyone in the chain will use that bit of info to determine "Hey, I guess we shouldn't torture people in violation of U.S. and international law, because it ends up costing us in the long run - morally, politically and judicially."

TSB said...

The judge excluded some evidence on those grounds, and the government also withdrew some counts, and that brought the final charges down to six or so, all presumably free of tainted evidence.

I don't follow the jury's reasoning that they could find him guilty on a single count but not guilty on the others, when all the counts were seemingly variations on single theme. He conspired to destroy buildings, but didn't conspire to destroy people, acquire explosives and vehicles, etc., etc? I expect the guilty verdict will be overturned on appeal.

I'm not sure what the administration takes away from this, but from the sounds of it, they have given up any plans to hold further civilian trials. They are now saying they will keep KSM and the other top-tier detainees at Gitmo indefinitely. Suits me.