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November 17, 2010 4:42 PM   Subscribe

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. (SL NYT)
posted by bearwife (73 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's weird how this is being treated as a "setback" for Obama's policy of trying folks civilly. Like, couldn't it be possible that he actually is only guilty of one count of conspiracy and we've just been holding him in Guantanamo for no real reason? It's only a setback if you beg the question on his guilt.
posted by klangklangston at 4:44 PM on November 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property

The worst of the worst.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:47 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another important thing to me seems... are these the charges he went into Guantanamo with or did they start coming up with the charges at some point when they felt they needed to justify holding him for longer and longer?
posted by XMLicious at 4:50 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I was certain the loitering and vagrancy charges would stick.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:55 PM on November 17, 2010 [11 favorites]


It's weird how this is being treated as a "setback" for Obama's policy of trying folks civilly.

Under American Goldfish Memory, it's the most "logical" reason given that no one can remember the fact that the previous administration went out of it's way to contrive ways to loophole out of the Geneva conventions and that, under American rule of law, rights, freedoms, etc. - that's not ok.
posted by yeloson at 4:55 PM on November 17, 2010


Or you could write the headline: "Signs that justice system back on track; Guantánamo detainee tried in civilian court, convicted of conspiracy and murder."

Or as the judge in this case said:
The judge told the jurors they had demonstrated that “American justice can be rendered calmly, deliberately and fairly by ordinary people, people who are not beholden to any government, not even ours."

Subhead: "Nation eagerly awaits trial of Bush, Cheney."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:56 PM on November 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


Of course, even if he had beat that one rap, it probably wouldn't have made any difference.

Jeh Johnson, the Defense Department’s chief lawyer, has stated that it is a "policy question” whether acquitted individuals will be released or held indefinitely.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:56 PM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


And, if you read the linked news report, the judge (who disallowed the key witness) apparently agrees with that policy.
posted by found missing at 4:59 PM on November 17, 2010


Joe Beese: convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property

The worst of the worst.
The defendant, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, 36, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. He was acquitted of six counts of conspiracy, including conspiring to kill Americans and use weapons of mass destruction.

When the judge’s clerk asked how the jury found on counts 11 to 223, which were all counts of murder, the jury foreman replied, “Not guilty.”

Mr. Ghailani faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
Wikipedia: 1998 United States embassy bombings --
The 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings occurred on August 7, 1998. Hundreds of people were killed (and thousands injured) in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the major East African cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.
This wasn't an act of aggression against government property. I don't know what Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani's role was, but the result of the bombings was tragic.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:59 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Acquitted on 279 charges, convicted on conspiracy to destroy gubmint property. 20 years to life. Now his 5 years in Gitmo without a trial can be written off as part of his sentence. Isn't that fucking handy?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 5:00 PM on November 17, 2010


(After reading the article, not really tldr, pretty short and simple)

Wow, the government actually tried to use his confession-under-torture in the trial? They didn't formally raise it, but:

"In Mr. Ghailani’s case, prosecutors chose not to introduce any of the statements Mr. Ghailani made when he was interrogated while in C.I.A. custody and at Guantánamo, although prosecutors told the judge the statements amounted “to a confession” of his role in the embassy plot."

I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. How could they actually think torture-induced "confessions" would fly in a legitimate trial? Are they that blinded by their (ahem) fervor that they actually have lost track of the simple fact that the supposed evidence obtained by that means is a) garbage and b) inadmissible?

My guess is the answers are 1) yes and 2) yes.

They've watched too much "24", methinks.

He should have been released based on his torture alone, and those responsible for said torture should be facing charges right now. Yes, he probably murdered people. The U.S. government screwed his case by incompetence and treasonous disregard for the constitution. They should hang instead. That's how the law should work.
posted by Invoke at 5:03 PM on November 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is "conspiring to kill Americans" a different charge than conspiracy to murder? And if so, which is the more heinous crime?
posted by nowonmai at 5:04 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


This wasn't an act of aggression against government property. I don't know what Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani's role was, but the result of the bombings was tragic.

I do think it was taken credit for. Correct me if I'm wrong. I guess you could say it was an act about someone/thing else, but in two countries at the same time?
posted by parmanparman at 5:16 PM on November 17, 2010


This wasn't an act of aggression against government property. I don't know what Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani's role was, but the result of the bombings was tragic.

Unless you are arguing embassies are not government property. Are you?
posted by parmanparman at 5:17 PM on November 17, 2010


He should have been released based on his torture alone, and those responsible for said torture should be facing charges right now.

And guess what?

A person who learns of the crime after it is committed and helps the criminal to conceal it, or aids the criminal in escaping, or simply fails to report the crime, is known as an "accessory after the fact".
posted by Joe Beese at 5:34 PM on November 17, 2010


really?
posted by found missing at 5:36 PM on November 17, 2010


convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property

The worst of the worst.


He played a key role in the killing of 280 people. Attempting to minimize his role is disengenous. The government had a witness excluded under the doctrine of "fruit of the poisonous tree," in that they learned of the witness via the alleged torture of another party.

That person, who was not tortured, said that Ghalani procured 250 pounds of TNT used in the bombing.

He should have been released based on his torture alone, and those responsible for said torture should be facing charges right now. Yes, he probably murdered people.

Murders should be set free because they were tortured by the government? He killed 280 people and injured thousands. The government rightfully did not introduce the evidence obtained from him that way. But we are supposed to look the other way because everyone hates Bush and Cheney?

Justice was served. Minimizing the deaths of 280 people does nothing for anyone.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:40 PM on November 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


Jon Beese said:

> And guess what?

Agreed, those who assisted in the illegal, unconstitutional, treasonous torture should be tried asap. I don't even begin to understand the rationale of those who try to rationalize their desire to punish (extralegally) behind the veneer of "preventing attacks".

It doesn't work, it hurts the U.S. in so many ways, it is illegal and immoral, please stop.
posted by Invoke at 5:44 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Murders should be set free because they were tortured by the government?

Yes. Anyone tortured by agents operating under color of authority of the United States government should be released, and invited back later to testify against their torturers when they are on trial.
posted by Justinian at 5:56 PM on November 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


Me

He should have been released based on his torture alone, and those responsible for said torture should be facing charges right now. Yes, he probably murdered people.

Ironmouth
Murders should be set free because they were tortured by the government? He killed 280 people and injured thousands. The government rightfully did not introduce the evidence obtained from him that way. But we are supposed to look the other way because everyone hates Bush and Cheney?

Yes, you have me right. The use of torture is an egregious violation of human rights, it is against the constitution as well as international treaties. Using it must be considered a violation worthy of removing the government's right to a trial. Further, those using it, no matter the provocation, must be brought up on charges. Only in that way will we have a chance of preventing the obnoxious rationalization of torture.

Get it through your head, it is punishment, it doesn't work to get real info, it is just punishment.

My opinion has nothing to do with Bush, I'm equally pissed at Obama and his administration's demonstrated willingness to continue with the treasonous treatment of Gitmo detainies. I'd prosecute him in a second, had I the power.
posted by Invoke at 5:56 PM on November 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


Agreed, those who assisted in the illegal, unconstitutional, treasonous torture should be tried asap.

Meanwhile, the British agree to pay gitmo detainees because they did nothing to stop torture.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:59 PM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not clear to me how these trials matter — hasn't the government more or less said it can just keep these prisoners unfree forever whether they're found guilty or not?
posted by gubo at 6:00 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


hasn't the government more or less said it can just keep these prisoners unfree forever whether they're found guilty or not?

Yes.

But at least they're pro-choice, right? Sort of?
posted by Joe Beese at 6:10 PM on November 17, 2010


Ironmouth, once you start torturing a suspect, justice cannot be served. The FBI warned the CIA about the black hole they were creating by torturing suspects since the early days after 9/11, but the extraordinary renditions and torture continued anyway. Gathering intelligence through contacts is one thing, but torturing and killing suspects is something that doesn't belong in any part of the US government.

Once tortured, you have created a catch 22: you either indefinitely and illegally detain a person, in violation of core values of human rights and our Constitution, or you try to put them through the justice system and hope they are guilty of something that wasn't discovered through torture. By torturing them you are greatly increasing the chances of an innocent man being denied his rights or a murderer walking because of technicalities.

Of course, instead of the anger being directed at The Agency and the previous administration for acting like a Maoist regime; instead of bringing them to justice for poisoning our judicial process, the propaganda will start about how this proves that Obama is inept at handling the War on Terror, etc, etc.
posted by notion at 6:20 PM on November 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


Murders should be set free because they were tortured by the government?

I remember a time - not all that long ago, really - when this would not have been considered a challenging question.

Finally, the twisted logic required to disentangle KSM's initial torture from his subsequent "clean team" statements will provide a blueprint for the government, giving them the prize they've been after all this time—a legal way both to torture and to prosecute..

Also:

When a State announces in advance that, even if a defendant is found not guilty, he will nonetheless be imprisoned for the rest of his life, the trial is transformed from an inquiry into the question of individual guilt or innocence and the related question of whether punishment should be imposed, to an unalloyed exercise in the glorification of State power.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:37 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was indicted on charges of conspiring to kill Americans abroad, as opposed to killing Americans on American soil. Not exactly sure what the difference is in this case, as it was at a US embassy.

Counts 11 to 223 were each individual counts of murder, meaning that each count was for the murder of a person that died in the Nairobi blast. I'm guessing the government could not meet their burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt, unanimous jury) showing that he had any intent of killing anybody. The evidence, as I could see, heavily weighed in favor of intent to help set off a bomb that would destroy a government building; likely there was a lack of evidence that he knew people would be there when it happened.

And, you can't release people just because they've been tortured. You can release them if the only evidence you have against them was coerced due to torture. My understanding is that they've had this guy on a list for a long time before Gitmo, and have lots of evidence independent of his time in US custody.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:55 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


My understanding is that they've had this guy on a list for a long time before Gitmo, and have lots of evidence independent of his time in US custody.

From whom do you derive this understanding? Anonymous Defense Department sources?

And the government didn't present this evidence to make things more sporting? Or was it that inconvenient "obtained through torture" thing?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:02 PM on November 17, 2010


from jabberjaw

And, you can't release people just because they've been tortured.

Yes, in a just world, you can. It would serve as a huge deterrent to governments sanctioning torture. Once a government starts torturing, it loses any legitimacy on subsequent prosecutions. The fault (and punishment) is on gov't, it isn't a present to the tortured, likely guilty, people.

Personally, I'd rather thousands of tortured prisoners go free than see a single more incident of "detained forever whether or not he is found guilty." That's not the government I was taught that we (in the U.S.) have, and not the government I can support.
posted by Invoke at 7:02 PM on November 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's entirely consistent to agree with the statement: "By torturing them you are greatly increasing the chances of an innocent man being denied his rights or a murderer walking because of technicalities," while also believing that we are better off with Ghalini being found guilty here of the crime that the government could prove with the evidence that wasn't obtained by torture.

It's weird that there are folks in this thread who seem to be jockeying to prove that they're the most against torture and pretending that their rhetorical opponents aren't also against torture, or are insufficiently against torture. It's kind of inane, and I wish they'd knock it off.

(This insufficiently left shit has been played out here since the days of Amberglow and Matteo.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:03 PM on November 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's weird that there are folks in this thread who seem to be jockeying to prove that they're the most against torture and pretending that their rhetorical opponents aren't also against torture, or are insufficiently against torture. It's kind of inane, and I wish they'd knock it off.

To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt: No one can make you feel insufficiently against torture without your consent.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:07 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Murders should be set free because they were tortured by the government?

Remember "innocent before proven guilty"? Well, they just proved him guilty, with legal evidence, of one charge

So the past 5 years we've been incarcerating and torturing him? That was a crime - a whole bunch of crimes actually, committed against him by our government. And he's one of hundreds of people - one of the higher profile ones actually, and the ones more likely to be guilty of anything

Our has government has illegally detained and tortured and killed hundreds of people, many of them innocent of any crimes. Much of the evidence of this has been destroyed, and little of what's left has found it's way into public hands. There has been a nearly complete failure to investigate or prosecute the people responsible, and no such effort looks likely

So yes, perhaps you should consider the possibility that a man who's been the victim of an organized, large-scale campaign of illegal torture and other human rights violations doesn't deserve any further punishment. Or at the very least, that the very government who committed those crimes against him has no moral right to continue his punishment
posted by crayz at 7:17 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


From whom do you derive this understanding? Anonymous Defense Department sources?

And the government didn't present this evidence to make things more sporting? Or was it that inconvenient "obtained through torture" thing?


I don't know what was presented at trial. I am somewhat interested in reading the transcripts, out of curiosity of how the proceedings when down.

I know Ghailani was part of the original 1998 indictment on the Nairobi bombing. I know he was on the FBI's most wanted list before he was picked up. I assume the FBI had some evidence that he was part of the bombing before seeking his indictment back in 1998 (you know, when Clinton was president); I doubt they pulled Ghailani's name out of thin air.

I also have an understand that the judge did a good job of excluding all evidence that may have been coerced due to torture. The best example is that the court excluded the government's key witness, because the government only knew about this witness after Ghailani was in U.S. custody, and the witness's name was likely coerced out of Ghailani. This witness supposedly would have sealed the deal on those murder charges.

I have no beef with the court's ruling, or the jury's findings. I think that the U.S. government screwed up this case by using torture on the guy, and the U.S. government got what it deserved: a watered down verdict. If the man helped kill hundreds of people and injured thousand more, then the prosecuting officials did this country a disservice by using torture tactics and sticking this guy in Gitmo as an enemy combatant. There is a good chance that he's getting off with basically a slap on the wrist; that he's getting away with mass murder.

It makes me sick to think that this might be true, that this terrorist is getting away. It also makes me sick to think that there are dozens (hundreds?) of people that have been held and tortured by the U.S. government that are innocent.

I really hope that the Attorney General, the FBI and the CIA are getting the message loud and clear, that torture was, is, and always has been wrong. I don't think it takes releasing this man from custody to get it across to them; I think that convicting a mass murdering terrorist of mere property damage gets this message across to them just fine.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:35 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Edit: It also makes me sick to think that there are dozens (hundreds?) of people that have been held and tortured by the U.S. government that are innocent.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:43 PM on November 17, 2010


Let's get some perspective here people. This gentleman was subjected to torture. That is wrong.

But he lived. The 280 people he killed got no trial and did not get the benefit of their constitutional rights. He did. Evidence was excluded at trial.

The 280 victims got no rights. He bought the TNT that killed them and was a key member of the conspiracy. These facts are indisputed. The guy who sold him confessed completely without any compulsion at all.

Somehow, the balance in some people's mind is this--even if you kill 280 people, you should go free if you are tortured. What about the 280 people? Are their lives worth less than the discomfort this man felt? Please enlighten us, people, on how that possibly could be.

Better yet, explain it to the victims.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:07 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


What about the 280 people? Are their lives worth less than the discomfort this man felt?

This is the first time I have heard torture in a secret CIA prison described as "discomfort". I hope it will be the last.

Their lives - or, to be more precise, the pretext they provide for your vengeance seeking - are worth less than keeping torture from being accepted as part of the American legal system.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:23 PM on November 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


These facts are indisputed. The guy who sold him confessed completely without any compulsion at all...

Somehow, the balance in some people's mind is this--even if you kill 280 people, you should go free if you are tortured. What about the 280 people? Are their lives worth less than the discomfort this man felt? Please enlighten us, people, on how that possibly could be.


No, the details are disputed. The claim is that he knew it was going to be used to blow up a government building, but didn't think the purpose was to kill people. That's why he got the conspiracy to destroy government property conviction.

What I worry about is that your language sounds very apologetic if applied to Saddam's torture chambers. Did you know he would torture people for carrying out honor killings? Are you saying you'd be one of his henchmen, so long as you agreed with the extrajudicial judgements without the right to a trial?

There is supposed to be a difference between America and a dictatorship. Not torturing your prisoners and forfeiting the government's right to prosecute if torture is used are two very important differences. It's very troubling that we, as a culture, don't seem to balk at a hundred thousand deaths in Afghanistan in retribution for 9/11, but call a successful jury trial an injustice.
posted by notion at 9:11 PM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Their lives - or, to be more precise, the pretext they provide for your vengeance seeking - are worth less than keeping torture from being accepted as part of the American legal system.

Joe, torture has never been a part of the American legal system. The evidence obtained by torture was excluded from the case. The judge ruled the evidence <
posted by Ironmouth at 9:11 PM on November 17, 2010


Please enlighten us, people, on how that possibly could be.

None of the options you present will bring them back. That leaves us with whichever option will lead to the least harm in the future, being the most desirable outcome. The most desirable outcome is that genuine detectivework replace fraudulent and illegal and ineffective and immoral methods.

Lives will be saved this way.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:16 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Their lives - or, to be more precise, the pretext they provide for your vengeance seeking - are worth less than keeping torture from being accepted as part of the American legal system.

Joe, torture has never been a part of the American legal system. The evidence obtained by torture was excluded from the case. The judge ruled the evidence inadmissible. Isn't that the result you want? Seriously, the state cannot punish the murder of 280 people using untainted evidence, because somehow that will mean that torture will never be used? As if an acquittal on over 200 counts isn't a proper deterrent?

Hate to break it to you but torture has been a sad part of every legal system that bans it. And the legal remedy from day one has been the exclusion of evidence at trial. That is the way it should be done.

More importantly, the Palins of this world howl at the gates for more torture and stand close to power again. Your holier than thou posturing, with no basis in the legal realities of our system, makes it more likely torture will occur again. What do you think the great unwashed will do if they see murders of 280 people walk because some damn fool tortured them? They'll elect Republicans--they will appoint judges that will make torture constitutional or worse--they will amend the constitution to make it legal.

The continuing posing and posturing on this issue in some small sectors of the American left, led by that fool Glenn Greenwald, will be the undoing of us all. One conviction legally obtained, over 200 acquittals--and yet this man must be set free.

And please stop strawmanning me and characterizing my explanation of the actual black letter law on this subject as "vengance." The evidence at trial was properly excluded. The state has the right to make its case against a murderer if the improper evidence and its "fruits" are excluded. This isn't vengence, it is the punishment of a crime and the state's misconduct in the case does not obsolve this man from his central role in killing the 280 people.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 PM on November 17, 2010


"Their lives - or, to be more precise, the pretext they provide for your vengeance seeking"

Dude, c'mon. Dial it back.
posted by klangklangston at 10:14 PM on November 17, 2010


He played a key role in the killing of 280 people. Attempting to minimize his role is disengenous.
Haven't you posted before saying you shouldn't second-guess juries? But that's exactly what the Jury here did. They said he was not guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, so how can you blame him for those deaths based on the verdict.

I'm not exactly clear how you could be guilty of conspiracy to destroy property, but not the other stuff. Seems pretty strange. But the jury heard all the evidence and decided he wasn't part of the conspiracy to kill people. To say otherwise is what's disingenuous.
Murders should be set free because they were tortured by the government? He killed 280 people
Again, that's not what the jury found.
But he lived. The 280 people he killed got no trial and did not get the benefit of their constitutional rights. He did. Evidence was excluded at trial.
Again, he was found not guilty of killing those people. So why don't you STFU?
Joe, torture has never been a part of the American legal system. The evidence obtained by torture was excluded from the case. The judge ruled the evidence
Yes, and as a result he was found not-guilty of murder. So either you believe that the jury reached the wrong verdict, or you don't care. But either way, from a legal standpoint he is not guilty of murder.

I don't really know the details of what happened, it sounds like he bought some TNT without knowing exactly what it was going to be used for. If he had no idea, how is he a murder? Is the guy who sold the gun to the VTech shooter a murder? Most people would say no.
The continuing posing and posturing on this issue in some small sectors of the American left, led by that fool Glenn Greenwald, will be the undoing of us all.
Yes, shock of shocks people actually have some ideals. I know that must be hard to understand, since you seem to have such a lose grip on actual facts.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


He bought the TNT that killed them and was a key member of the conspiracy. These facts are indisputed.

And yet, the government was unable to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Are you suggesting that, despite the fact that he was not found guilty of any of the murder charges, that the government should....What? He's already going to stay locked up for the rest of his life. Would you see him executed, despite the verdict rendered by a jury?
posted by rtha at 10:33 PM on November 17, 2010


No, much as I don't think I've earnestly said that the system works, like, ever, in this case, it pretty much did. Torture evidence was excluded, the torture's a separate crime, the guy got convicted for something the government could prove and not anything they couldn't. The idea of letting him go free is as much a farce as executing him.
posted by klangklangston at 10:56 PM on November 17, 2010


Juan Cole : - Bush-Cheney Use of Torture Derails Ghailani Prosecution
posted by adamvasco at 1:09 AM on November 18, 2010


At least justice was done here. Hopefully next time criminals can be prosecuted with all the facts, rather than thoroughly poisoning the system by torturing people. Your nation has fucked up. You now get to pay the price if you want to stay civilised. Ours is already - we're having to pay millions to some UK citizens - because you tortured them in in your secret camps around the world. Thanks assholes.

Just look at this: BBC News

Why do I say next time? Simple, you've create a GULAG system and, along with Abu Graib, have guaranteed that the radicalised muslim world will want to kill you for decades to come.

As your hero says.... Mission Accomplished.

After the UK government fucked up in Northern Ireland in the late 60s and early 70s it took decades for the memories to fade enough to aim for a solution. Oh well. Just keep an eye out next time you are somewhere crowded. That'll keep you safe.
posted by Hugh Routley at 2:34 AM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Somehow, the balance in some people's mind is this--even if you kill 280 people, you should go free if you are tortured. What about the 280 people? Are their lives worth less than the discomfort this man felt? Please enlighten us, people, on how that possibly could be.

Sure thing.

When a government tortures people to extract confessions from them, the government loses its legitimacy. This is a government that hundreds of millions of citizens look to for protection, for safety, for justice for themselves and their families and friends.

You like democracy? How about freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? Yes, I could go down the entire constitution and bring up all those things you like, all those things you trust and rely on. All those things are shit. All those things are a lie when your government allows this kind of behavior. That's what it means when it de-legitimizes itself. It's no longer your government. Those promises? Those rules? All bullshit.

280 died. But they're dead no matter how the ruling goes. Their deaths, then, are a complete red herring. The real question is, does a certain moralistic, jingoistic, self-serving, small-minded group of bastards get to feel good about somebody's death, or do 300 million people get to keep their country and their rights and sleep better at night knowing that jackboot thugs aren't allowed to come into their homes and kidnap them and send them to some island a thousand miles away to be tortured (to death, in many cases).

I'll take my goddamned country over some sick pride over some asshole's death, thank you very fucking much.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:46 AM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


From klangklangston:

It's entirely consistent to agree with the statement: "By torturing them you are greatly increasing the chances of an innocent man being denied his rights or a murderer walking because of technicalities," while also believing that we are better off with Ghalini being found guilty here of the crime that the government could prove with the evidence that wasn't obtained by torture.

Well said. It is a rational statement and I respect your position, I just don't agree with it. I think the price of torture should be cranked all the way up. I also don't agree with the clever argument that only getting one non-murder guilty verdict is "enough of a deterrent". Arresting and trying the torturers would be a good start, and might actually work to deter those who would commit that atrocity.

It's weird that there are folks in this thread who seem to be jockeying to prove that they're the most against torture and pretending that their rhetorical opponents aren't also against torture, or are insufficiently against torture. It's kind of inane, and I wish they'd knock it off.

I assume you are talking about me in part. Having ideals isn't inane, and no I won't stop. Nor am I a member of what you assume to be "the far left". Ick, now that's an insult.
posted by Invoke at 6:13 AM on November 18, 2010


Is "conspiring to kill Americans" a different charge than conspiracy to murder? And if so, which is the more heinous crime?

See: American Exceptionalism. Obviously, killing Americans is a much more heinous crime than killing average humans.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:33 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obviously, killing Americans is a much more heinous crime than killing average humans.

Which is why I remain coldly unmoved by this pious talk of "280 lives".

We have murdered that many Pakistani civilians in just the last few months. Not to mention the thousands of Afghan civilians before them. And the tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians before them.

Of course, that body count was achieved over time rather than all at once. But that's not what makes them morally different to the regime's apologists. No, what makes it morally different to them is that it is Americans killing Muslims rather than the other way around.

They say: When we kill, it is only inadvertently. ["Sorry you happened to be getting married where we though that Taliban guy was. We regret the error."] And only in the service of spreading freedom!

Not like those slavering monsters with their insane, completely unjustified hatred of us.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:06 AM on November 18, 2010


Go stuff yourself with the American Exceptionalism crap - did you even do any investigation into what the actual charges were, or did you just take the sloppy reporting at face value? It's likely that you did, because if you had actually looked into the matter, you would see that the only distinction in the murder charges was between murdering people in a "federal facility" - a violation of 18 USC 1111 - and murdering employees of the United States - a violation of 18 USC 1114. This distinction is not based on nationality or citizenship. There were 12 US citizens killed in Nairobi, but there were 40 counts of killing a US employee.

Just because the media reports the charges as killing Americans versus non-Americans doesn't make it true. I used to expect more critical inquiry from people posting around here.

Anyway, this verdict is self-contradictory and is likely the result of jury negotiations to avoid a hung jury. It makes no sense to convict on conspiracy to destroy a federal building by explosives and not convict on conspiracy to commit the murder of those inside. It seems likely that one or more of the jurors had doubts as to Ghailani's intent or knowledge of the attack.
posted by thewittyname at 8:27 AM on November 18, 2010


Where is the vengence for those who have been tortured and deprived of due process?
posted by mikelieman at 8:56 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I worry about is that your language sounds very apologetic if applied to Saddam's torture chambers. Did you know he would torture people for carrying out honor killings? Are you saying you'd be one of his henchmen, so long as you agreed with the extrajudicial judgements without the right to a trial?

What I worry about is that your language is very apologetic when it comes to a murderer of over two hundred people.

There's nothing more pathetic than that level of ridiculous strawmanning. I think you ought to withdraw that comment. I say it is appropriate to follow the last 220 years of US constitutional jurisprudence, and properly exclude evidence which was the fruits of torture (not its product), while still trying the person with the evidence they do have and you accuse me of wanting to be Saddam's Henchman, and approving of torture.

But those "supporting" the convicted in this thread now turn to the argument that "gee he didn't know the TNT was going to blow up that particular building, so he should go free. Well, guess what? The jury disagreed. Your "hero" will now rot.

No amount of government misconduct will ever wipe this crime off his hands. It is right and proper we give him the rights he did not give those people in the building he conspired to blow up and exclude evidence improperly obtained. But it is right and proper that he face trial with all allowable evidence. No matter what Bush and Cheney did, this man stands convicted of conspiring to blow up that embassy and 12 people on that jury did their job properly.

Some hero.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:08 AM on November 18, 2010


Ironmouth, you realize that the only other use of the word "hero" in this thread was in sarcastic reference to Bush, right?

If you are going to argue about strawman arguments, you probably shouldn't use them.
posted by Invoke at 9:16 AM on November 18, 2010


The real question is, does a certain moralistic, jingoistic, self-serving, small-minded group of bastards get to feel good about somebody's death, or do 300 million people get to keep their country and their rights and sleep better at night knowing that jackboot thugs aren't allowed to come into their homes and kidnap them and send them to some island a thousand miles away to be tortured (to death, in many cases).

Except, this was a victory for constitutional rights. That evidence was excluded at trial. They used other evidence to convict. So how this is a victory for the jack boots, I don't know. This is a victory for the opponents of torture. The government didn't get to use evidence that was the fruits of torture. That's what people are saying when they say you are arguing people are "insufficiently left." You are aiming to find someone who "supports" torture. Not finding that, you go for the next best thing--someone who says that this guy shouldn't be made a hero and that it is proper to try him with untainted evidence, as the law has always done since the beginning of the Republic.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:27 AM on November 18, 2010


...it is appropriate to follow the last 220 years of US constitutional jurisprudence, and properly exclude evidence which was the fruits of torture (not its product), while still trying the person with the evidence they do have...

In my layman's understanding, following "the last 220 years of US constitutional jurisprudence" would mean releasing the accused if they were acquitted.

"Right and proper" my ass.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:31 AM on November 18, 2010


In my layman's understanding, following "the last 220 years of US constitutional jurisprudence" would mean releasing the accused if they were acquitted.

"Right and proper" my ass.


He was convicted, Joe. You don't need to be a lawyer to see that.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:38 AM on November 18, 2010


He was convicted

After "the judge rejected a motion by Mr. Ghailani’s lawyers seeking dismissal of charges on grounds that his torture while in C.I.A. custody was outrageous government misconduct."

After "the judge ruled that Mr. Ghailani’s years of detention before being brought into the civilian system had not violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial."

On the basis of coerced testimony.

And he would have been imprisoned for life even if acquitted.

Don't expect me to salute to your show trial.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:48 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe, that witness was excluded.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:53 AM on November 18, 2010


I frequently disagree with Ironmouth in threads like these, and I'm certainly bothered by some of his more inflamatory rhetoric here; he was acquitted of murder, so I don't think we should be calling him a murder.

That said, I broadly agree with him here. The verdict here is a victory for constitutional rights. Evidence obtained through torture was excluded, which Ironmouth points out is consistent with over 200 years of jurisprudence.

The belief that he was given a fair trial does not preclude also believing that his due process rights were violated, or that the trial was made irrelevant by the administration's assertion of a tyrannical "post-acquittal detention power" or that his human rights were violated when he was tortured. I wish I had a reasonable hope of seeing his torturers tried for their crimes, along with those who created the torture regime.

Greenwald has a new column on this case, and I found it pretty persuasive.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2010


Apologies for excessive use of ambiguous pronouns in my comment. The iPhone is not the best tool for proofreading.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2010


By the way, there is a difference between legal guilt and factual guilt. Did Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani probably use the TNT with the intent to kill? Probably, but the jury felt that there wasn't enough proof based upon uncontaminated evidence. He still is probably a factual murderer if not a legally liable one.

All in all, I think the jury took it's duty seriously and came to an appropriate verdict.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:05 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Glen Greenwald: - The Ghailani verdict and American justice.
posted by adamvasco at 1:00 PM on November 18, 2010


Don't expect me to salute to your show trial.

This was not a show trial. The judge, the lawyers and the jury all took their jobs very seriously. There was no predetermined verdict. There was no payoff. There was no executive pulling the puppet strings.

I hope that we can revisit this when Ghailani's sentencing is decided by Judge Kaplan. I'm sure a date has been set for it, but I don't see it anywhere after a quick google search. I suspect that he will not get a life sentence, and I further suspect that the Obama administration will go with whatever sentence Ghailani gets.

I may very well be wrong, of course, and it may be that he gets a life sentence, or he's remanded to military custody, or the Obama administration ends up deciding to detain him indefinitely until the war on terror is done. We'll see.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2010


There was no predetermined verdict.

There was a pre-determined outcome: Ghailani imprisoned for as long as the Leader wants him to be.

I was also told "We'll see" on whether Obama would escalate in Afghanistan and whether he would cave on "Any health bill I sign must include a public option".

We saw.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:39 PM on November 18, 2010


I don't understand, Joe; are you saying that the jury was part of a conspiracy towards Ghailani, that they did not fairly acquit and convict him? Did you think they the jury should have found him not guilty of all counts?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:23 PM on November 18, 2010


There was no predetermined verdict.

There was a pre-determined outcome: Ghailani imprisoned for as long as the Leader wants him to be.


You're just making stuff up out of whole cloth. and you know it.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2010


What Joe is saying is that even if Ghailani was acquitted on all charges, it is very unlikely he would have been released. What evidence is there of this?

Had he been cleared of all charges, the administration would probably have been forced to take Ghailani back into military custody rather than see him released.
-The Washington Post

The judge himself recognized the significance of excluding the witness when he said in his ruling that Mr. Ghailani’s status of “enemy combatant” probably would permit his detention as something akin “to a prisoner of war until hostilities between the United States and Al Qaeda and the Taliban end, even if he were found not guilty.”
-TFA

You're just making stuff up out of whole cloth. and you know it.
-Ironmouth

You did RTFA, didn't you?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:15 PM on November 18, 2010


Oh, Christ, Joe, the fucking public option again?
posted by klangklangston at 4:19 PM on November 18, 2010


HERE'S SOMETHING THAT MATTERS: One of the guy's lawyers is called Steve Zissou.
posted by falameufilho at 5:23 PM on November 18, 2010


Scott Horton: -
The network news accounts that I watched last night were generally breathless,...... Discussion of the merits or details of the Ghailani trial was notably absent from these reports; apparently our criminal justice process is just a curious sideshow to political struggles. The comments made were generally ill-informed, and many were unsupported claims of fact. But that’s par for the course when major broadcast media attempt to cover politically charged trials.
posted by adamvasco at 12:51 AM on November 19, 2010


^ Good article, adamvasco. I like the one linked in there from Karen Greenberg too:
In the hours since those astonishing 15 minutes, the verdict has set off a political maelstrom—a "tragedy" and a "disaster," it's been called. Never mind that Ghailani's one-count conviction still carries a 20 years-to-life sentence. The truth is, the reluctance to try detainees in federal court was never about justice. It was about the fear of justice.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2010


What Joe is saying is that even if Ghailani was acquitted on all charges, it is very unlikely he would have been released. What evidence is there of this?

Which is no evidence at all.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:25 PM on November 19, 2010


Oh, Christ, Joe, the fucking public option again?

In his heart, he knows Palin will pass it.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:25 PM on November 19, 2010


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