The Ghailani Verdict: You Can't Always Get What You Want:
The most telling comment on the conviction of terrorist suspect Ahmed Ghailani on 1 out of 286 charges against him came from the widow of one of the victims of one of the 1998 bombings that Ghailani helped cause. "I can’t help but feel that the evidence in the case would have been stronger had Ghailani been brought to trial when he was captured in 2004," said Susan Hirsch, whose husband was killed when a suicide bomber blew up the U.S. embassy in Tanzania. Ghailani was charged with murder and various conspiracies, including using WMDs. He was acquitted of everything but one charge of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and people.
What Hirsch is alluding to is the fact that Ghailani was indeed captured in 2004 by Pakistan and given to the United States. He was handed over to the CIA, which promptly transported him to one of its black sites where, for two years, he was interrogated and tortured. When they had squeezed him to the rind, Ghailani was transferred to our prison at Guantanamo Bay where he was held and interrogated and military commissioned for another three years. He was transferred to the U.S. to stand trial in 2009 in what was supposed to be a slam-dunk of a case. Of course, there was the whole problem of information gotten from the torture of Ghailani and others being inadmissible in court. He's never gonna be a free man. Ever. And he'll get at least 20 years for the crime he was convicted of by a jury, as per, you know, the Constitution.
As the right and the center predictably regurgitate the same old anti-American bullshit about how our justice system is made up of terrorist-coddling pussy judges, mongoloid juries, and traitorous lawyers whose sole purpose is to make sure that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed personally gets to knife the Palin daughters and only the military can try such monsters, it would do us well to remember, as we ever should, that had it not been for the Bush administration's abandonment of so many principles of American jurisprudence, Ghailani would have probably been convicted of some of the counts that would have allowed us to, oh, joyful vengeance, kill him. And, by the way, in March 2001, six months before Everything Changed, the Bush Justice Department indicted Ghailani as part of a larger indictment against al-Qaeda's leaders and members.
Yep, before Ghailani was elevated into one of the world's great villains, the bad-ass Bushies pretty much included him in the same way you include the assistant to the bagman for a mob boss in a mafia indictment. According to John Ashcroft's office, "On or about July 1998 [Ghailani and another co-conspirator] purchased a 1987 Nissan Atlas truck in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania" and "On or about late July and early August 1998 [Ghailani and other co-conspirators] loaded boxes of TNT, cylinder tanks, batteries, detonators, fertilizer, and sand bags in the back of the [Tanzanian embassy bombing] Truck." Bad shit, to be sure, and illegal. Ghailani was also allegedly a cook for Osama bin Laden. His lentil stew is said to be divine.
What made Ghailani into the Big Bad Wolf was what other tortured people said about him after Everything Changed. More accurately, more than likely someone who had been worked over at a black site was shown some photos and told to say some shit about the people in them. And there's only so many beatings and nut shocks and dog attacks one can take before one will identify anyone for anything. Thus, Ghailani was transformed.
Ms. Hirsch is right, though. If, as his lawyers protested, Ghailani had received a speedy trial, he would have long ago been put away or executed ('cause that just makes us feel so goddamn Uhmerkan). But, to reiterate, even after the Bush administration's detention program fucked the whole thing up, Ghailani's never gonna be a free man. He's either going to be sent to prison and/or held in our tropical gulag or some other place forever. That shit's a done deal. But that's not good enough. The hysterical in this country will not be pleased until each one of them is given an alleged terrorist to personally waterboard to death.
Sometimes it seems like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson's ghosts are just staring down mournfully from the top of the Washington Monument, wondering if they should just go tear up the very documents they wrote because, really, why have fucking bothered?