Guantánamo detainee, acquitted on 284 of 285 charges, faces 20 years

Published on Global, by Tom Eley, Nov. 19, 2010.

In a blow to the Obama administration’s effort to manipulate the civilian justice system to achieve guilty verdicts for alleged terrorists, a New York City jury on Wednesday unexpectedly acquitted a Guantánamo detainee, Ahmed Khaifan Ghailani, on 284 of 285 charges. The case was related to the 1998 terrorist attacks on US Embassy in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, which killed at least 11 people and injured another 85.

Ghailani, 36, was convicted of only one charge, conspiring to destroy government buildings. The 12-member jury was unconvinced by government charges related to allegations of murder. Ghailani nonetheless faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

Ghailani, who is Tanzanian, was abducted from Pakistan in 2004 along with his wife and children. He was then turned over to the Central Intelligence Agency, which transported him to “black site” prisons, including one in Poland, and then ultimately to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba in 2006. Like most prisoners caught up in the global dragnet known as the war on terror, Ghailani was repeatedly tortured by US intelligence personnel during his imprisonment.

From any ethical and rational legal standpoint, this makes information extracted from Ghailani by his interrogators inadmissible in court, and, indeed, all of the proceedings against him illegitimate. However, the presiding Federal District Court judge in the case, Lewis A. Kaplan, earlier in the year overruled defense requests that the trial be dismissed because Ghailani had been tortured. Kaplan also quashed another motion requesting dismissal because the court proceedings, taking place six years after his arrest, violated Ghailani’s right to a speedy trial.

The Ghailani case was handpicked by the Obama administration to test whether or not the civilian court system could be entrusted to produce guilty verdicts in terrorism cases, with Attorney General Eric Holder all but guaranteeing it would be prosecuted to a successful conclusion. It was to serve as a trial run for the prosecution in federal court of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged ringleader of the 9/11 terror attacks. Mohammed was extensively tortured?it is documented that he was waterboarded at least 183 times. The Ghailani verdict now makes it more likely that Mohammed will face a military tribunal … //

… A separate system of justice is being constructed under the control and discipline of the military, immune to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Geneva Conventions, in which hearsay evidence and evidence solicited through torture will be admissible. The president and the executive branch arrogate to themselves the right to declare anyone in the world, even US citizens, enemy combatants and subject to arrest, rendition, torture and indefinite detention without trial?that is, if the president does not order summary assassination instead, a right the Obama administration has also proclaimed.

There is no room in this setup for the vestiges of an independent judiciary or the rule of law. What is being built, in short, is the judicial machinery of a military dictatorship. This will inevitably be deployed against those in the US and abroad who resist the policies of the American ruling class. (full text).

Global Research Articles by Tom Eley

: See also NATO: Afghan War Model For Future 21st Century Operations, by Rick Rozoff, November 19, 2010.

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