Justice: Terrorist Trial Verdict In NYC: Up Date x 2

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The rule of law and justice won yesterday when, terrorist suspect, Ahmed Ghailani, was  was convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. He was acquitted of four counts of conspiracy, including conspiring to kill Americans and to use weapons of mass destruction in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Mr. Ghailani will be facing a prison term of 20 years to life based on that one charge. All the evidence was circumstantial and Mr. Ghailani’s attorneys argued he wad been duped into participating.

The prosecutors in this case were not able to bring a key witness in to testify because because the government had learned about the man through Mr. Ghailani’s interrogation while he was in C.I.A. custody, where his lawyers say he was tortured. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court, who presided over the trial, pointed out that a military commission judge would have excluded that testimony, too. The prosecutors also did not submit any statements made by Mr. Ghailani while he was in custody of the CIA and in Guantanamo because as his lawyers argued those statements were made under coercion and inadmissible. Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, has said he will ask for a life on January 25 when Mr. Ghailani will return to court for sentencing.

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent, detailed analysis of how our criminal justice system has worked very well in this case:

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.  The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson made this point quite well today:

Let’s be clear: if time in the extra-judicial limbo of black sites, and the torture that caused some evidence to be excluded, makes prosecutors’ jobs harder, the problem is with the black sites and the torture, and not with the civilian trials that might eventually not work out quite the way everyone likes. It’s a point that bears some repeating.  Our legal system is not a machine for producing the maximum number of convictions, regardless of the law.  Jurors are watching the government, too, as well they should. Ghailani today could be anyone tomorrow.

Not good enough for Rep. Peter King (R-NY ) who decried that this was a “wake up call” for the Obama administration to abandon its plan to try terrorist suspects in civilian courts. Instead of blaming confessed war criminal George W. Bush and his co-conspirator, Dick Cheney, for using torture to coerce confessions, Mr. King chose to blame the President and the Justice Department for its “failure”. Mr. King needs to read the Nuremberg Principles and understand that since he has not called for an investigation of the war crimes that Mr.Bush and Mr. Cheney have openly admitted, that he, too, can be charged as a war criminal. Such is the rule of law.

Up Date: It is clear that our criminal justice system worked despite the obstacles thrown in the way. Both President Obama and Attorney General Holder should be commended for sticking to the principles of law and should continue to try these cases in our courts. The verdict should also be a message for Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, our NY Senators and Representatives that these trials can and should be held in New York. If there is a “failure” here, it is that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney are not in a prison cell awaiting trial for war crimes.

Up Date 2: Constitutional lawyer and law professor, Jonathan Turley, was a guest today on “Hard Ball” with Michael Smerconish, sitting in for Chris Matthews, to discuss the verdict. Former Gov. George Pataki presented the argument that because Mr. Ghailani was not convicted on all counts that this was a failure and future trails of terror suspects should be held by military tribunals. My advice before viewing is secure all objects that could damage your monitor if thrown. Mr. Pataki is quite infuriating.

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    • on 11/18/2010 at 17:58
    • on 11/18/2010 at 18:31

    who is a well known constitutional law professor at George Washington University, will be on “Hardball” on MSNBC at 5 PM EST to discuss the verdict.

    • on 11/19/2010 at 03:56

    Did the judge do like in the movies and say “On the charge of…” followed by “Not Guilty” 284 times and then get to “On the charge of engaging in a terror conspiracy” followed by “Bingo!” Or did the judge just say to the foreman (foreperson?) “Okay what’s the deal on these 285 charges?”

    And the Republicans even need to politicize that. Besides King, John Boehner is making all sorts of noise and Democrats are hurting the small minded with their timid “upholding the constitution.”

    Why don’t they just try “Twenty to life. You hear the back end of that, life? What parole board do think is going to let this guy go? Justice was served and just like today with Republicans threatening national security by standing in the way of a nuclear arms agreement, they are just making noise. Trying to score some political points and not letting the Constitution get in the way.”  

    That should wake the lizard brains up.  

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