A quick hit on the case of Ahmed Ghailani, the accused terrorist who was tried in civilian court for the bombing of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Charged with 281 counts of murder and conspiracy, Ghailani was convicted on only a single count of conspiracy, because the judge ruled that certain testimony was inadmissible on the grounds that it was obtained through the use of torture.
The conservatives are making hay of this. Ed Morrissey at HotAir:
The failure of Holder’s DoJ to win anything more than a single conspiracy count against Ghailani as a result of using a process designed for domestic criminals than wartime enemies shows that the critics had it right all along. It also shows that both Obama and Holder have been proven spectacularly wrong, since a man who confessed to the murder of over two hundred people will now face as little as 20 years, with a big chunk of whatever sentence Foopie receives being reduced by time already served.
And on the Left, Glenn Greenwald at Salon:
But the most important point here is that one either believes in the American system of justice or one does not. When a reviled defendant is acquitted in court, and torture-obtained evidence is excluded, that isn’t proof that the justice system is broken; it’s proof that it works. A “justice system” which guarantees convictions — or which allows the Government to rely on evidence extracted from torture — isn’t a justice system at all, by definition.
They’re both right.
A justice system, if it makes any pretense at all at justice, is predicated on protecting individual rights–including the rights of the accused. If the evidence was inadmissible (and it likely would have been inadmissible in a military tribunal as well), then it was inadmissible.
Civil justice is simply not the right forum in which to deal with international terrorism. The administration has already admitted that regardless of the outcome of the trial it has the right and the will to hold Ghailani indefinitely anyway.
A justice system, if it makes any pretense at all at justice, is predicated on the idea that the results of trials matter.
The one point on which both Morrissey and Greenwald agree is that this whole exercise was nothing more than a show trial. It was a farce masquerading as principle. Money, time, energy wasted on a mock trial whose outcome simply doesn’t matter.
But we knew all this already. When the Obama administration announced that they would seek civilian trials for some of the Guantanamo detainees, but not all, it made the tacit admission that the trials were being conducted for political purposes only. When it further announced that it would continue to hold the defendants, even if acquitted, as enemy-combatants, it ceded the entirety of the argument to the opposition. The administration has admitted that these men are enemy combatants, but will, in an attempt to mollify a particularly vocal group of political partisans, hold show trials and make a pretense of justice.