'Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.' — Albert Einstein
A news reporter asked, 'What do you think of western civilization?'
Mahatma Gandhi answered: 'I think it would be a good idea.'
From the Washington Post:
Bush's Idea of Swift Justice — Dan Froomkin
Two months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and after almost no consultation with anyone outside Vice President Cheney's office, President Bush signed an executive order setting up an extra-judicial system of military commissions, ostensibly to bring tough and swift justice to terrorists.
Nearly seven years, a series of Supreme Court rulings, and multiple congressional capitulations later, [the] system finally rendered its first decision yesterday, in the case of a minor al Qaeda functionary [Salim Ahmed Hamdan— bin Laden's chauffeur].
It was at best a mixed verdict for everybody.
Jerry Markon writes in The Washington Post: "A military jury on Wednesday found a former driver for Osama bin Laden guilty of supporting terrorism but not of conspiring in terrorist attacks, handing the Bush administration a partial victory in the first U.S. war crimes trial in a half a century.
"Charles D. Swift, a former Navy lawyer who has represented Mr. Hamdan for years, said the case would eventually reach the American court system, which he predicted would correct legal errors here. Mr. Swift called the military commission 'a made-up tribunal to try anybody we don't like.'"
Dan De Luce writes for AFP: "At sentencing hearings that began on Wednesday afternoon, the Navy officer presiding over the case, Keith Allred, rejected a request by the prosecution to call an FBI agent to describe the effects of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
"Allred said Hamdan was 'such a small player' that it would be unfair to have the jury hear the testimony as it would imply Hamdan had a role in the 9/11 attacks."
[Gee, ya think? TC]
Carol J. Williams writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Despite the potential for a sentence less than or equal to the time he already has served, Hamdan has been told by his lawyers of the Bush administration's intent to keep all branded 'enemy combatants' detained indefinitely, regardless of any acquittals."
Michael Hirsh writes for Newsweek: "The Bush administration needed a big win in the Salim Hamdan case at Guantánamo. It didn't get one. By convicting Osama bin Laden's former driver -- the first 'terrorist' to be tried under the first U.S. war-crimes tribunal since World War II -- only of 'material' support for terrorism, and absolving him of conspiracy to commit terrorism, the military judges provoked questions about what Hamdan was doing there in the first place. Is driving a car a war crime? The appeals court may decide not -- in which case even this meager verdict could be thrown out.
"'I would be very surprised if any of this conviction stands at the end of the day,' says Scott Horton, a law professor specializing in human rights at Columbia University. 'He was convicted of things that are not war crimes by a tribunal that has the power only to prosecute war crimes.' . . .
"[T]he Hamdan verdict points up, more than anything else, one of the central mistakes of the Bush administration after 9/11: sheer overreaching. Was this really the best the administration could do — a driver — in the first test run of its much-batted- about tribunal system, nearly seven years after the terror attacks themselves?
By arrogantly deciding that the president had the right to define and pursue the 'war on terror' any way he liked, and that he could define anyone he liked as an 'unlawful combatant' -- then expanding its prisoner population way beyond the true Al Qaeda culprits to include everyone rounded up in Afghanistan and then Iraq -- the administration ensured itself a legal and moral quagmire. . . .
"What began as a hunt for a relatively contained group of self-declared murderers like bin Laden became a feckless dragnet for tens of thousands (if one includes Iraq) that no other country could openly support. And now we are paying for it. We Americans are now fighting the 'War on Terror' all but alone in the world.
"'By defining the war on terror so expansively the administration has undermined the legitimacy of that very concept,' says [Matt Waxman, the former Defense Department assistant secretary of detainee affairs], who fought several brave battles within the White House, principally against Cheney, his chief legal counsel David Addington and their Justice Department mole, John Yoo, to clarify and rationalize detention and interrogation rules. 'Had the government taken a much narrower approach, and restricted the definition of who could be detained, it would be in a stronger position.'"
Rosa Brooks writes in her Los Angeles Times opinion column: "On Wednesday, after 6 1/2 years of controversy and delay, the administration finally scored a 'victory' in a military commission trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gaining the conviction of one terrorist mastermind.
"Osama bin Laden, you ask?
"Ah, no. He's still living it up somewhere in Pakistan, enjoying a good chuckle at our expense.
"Wednesday instead saw the conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who fessed up to being . . . Bin Laden's driver. He was accordingly convicted of the 'war crime' of 'providing material support for terrorism.' Next up before the military commissions: Bin Laden's pastry chef, for providing culinary support to terrorism."
[All emphases added.]
Click here for the full text.
Well, the administration has done one thing for the rest of us, at least. If Congress will get off its duff and convict these a**h*les [it's too late to impeach them, but we can still prosecute them], we can use their own ‘war crimes’ regulations against them.
I, for one, especially like the part about 'indefinite detainment' though the part about including in evidence confessions made 'under duress' holds a certain charm of it's own.