Friday, November 19, 2010

The Ghailani Verdict

New York Times
November 18, 2010

The verdict in the first federal trial of a former Guantánamo detainee has unleashed the usual chest-thumping and fear-mongering from the usual politicians. They are disappointed that the defendant was only convicted of one count of conspiring to blow up American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 — a crime for which he will probably serve a life sentence.

That clearly wasn’t enough for Representative Peter King, a Long Island Republican who will be the next chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He showed a shocking disdain for the 12 jurors, who deliberated more than four days. He described their verdict as a “total miscarriage of justice.”

Senator John McCain proclaimed on the “Imus in the Morning” program that the verdict proved that all terrorism cases should be tried in military commissions, which he said were set up to “get the job done.”

It’s not clear what job Mr. McCain had in mind, unless he meant guaranteeing guilty verdicts, on all counts, all of the time, no matter what the facts are in a case. President George W. Bush created such a system. The Supreme Court rightly declared it unconstitutional.