Writing intermittently on life, politics, and society

I find your lack of faith disturbing

Via Paul Waldman, at The American Prospect a few of the big papers on the conviction of Ahmed Ghailani, who has been convicted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Here’s how The Washington Post played it:

Ahmed Ghailani, Gitmo detainee, acquitted of all but 1 charge in N.Y. The first former Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in federal criminal court was found guilty on a single conspiracy charge Wednesday but cleared on 284 other counts. The outcome, a surprise, seriously undermines – and could doom – the Obama administration’s plans to put other Guantanamo detainees on trial in U.S. civilian courts.And here’s The New York Times:

Detainee Acquitted on Most Counts in ’98 Bombings The first former Guantánamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court was acquitted on Wednesday of all but one of more than 280 charges of conspiracy and murder in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.The case has been seen as a test of President Obama’s goal of trying detainees in federal court whenever feasible, and the result seems certain to fuel debate over whether civilian courts are appropriate for trying terrorists.

And here’s the L.A. Times:

U.S. civilian court acquits ex-Guantanamo detainee of all major terrorism charges A New York federal jury acquitted alleged Al Qaeda accomplice Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani on Wednesday of all major terrorism charges in the 1998 suicide bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Here’s The Guardian‘s take:

Leading Republicans have demanded that Barack Obama scrap plans to try the organisers of the 9/11 attacks in civilian courts after a New York jury acquitted an alleged terrorist of more than 200 murder charges over al-Qaida‘s bombing of US embassies in east Africa.

Let’s just process that for a moment. In essence what people like Mitch McConnell are arguing is that failure to secure a conviction on the more serious charges mean that Constitutional protections shouldn’t apply to certain classes of accused. And it should be noted that the Obama administration is no better on this, since it has claimed that it can imprison people as enemy combatants even when they are acquitted.

Reading the spin on the trial,  I’ve begun to wonder if Americans really believe in the rule of law.

Look. Ghailani’s acquittals on other charges were largely the result of  evidence which had to be thrown out as it was obtained via torture. Even if Ghailani were acquitted on all counts because of tainted evidence then his going free should be OK.  People are entitled to fair trials, and if after a fair trial the accused is acquitted, then the accused needs to go free.


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