Bin Laden’s Driver Convicted in Military Tribunal

As expected, Osama Bin Laden’s former driver Salim Hamdan was found guilty of five counts of material support to a terror organization in the September 11, 2001, attacks. He was tried before the military tribunal and found not guilty of conspiracy to aid a terror organization by a panel of six military officers. The verdict is likely to be dismissed around the world due to the means used to secure it. The tribunals have been rightly ridiculed as kangaroo courts, even by conservatives.

Ironically, if President Bush had simply relied on the justice system, these men would likely have been convicted and sentenced years ago. Instead, after spending millions and losing credibility around the world, the Administration is struggling to secure a handful of convictions before Bush leaves office to offer some vindication for this ill-conceived system.

Nevertheless, White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto promptly announced that “We’re pleased that Salim Hamdan received a fair trial.” Well, it is good to know that White House is pleased.

Ultimately, these convictions will do little to help the legacy of the President Bush. Hundreds of people were held under abusive conditions, including some who were tortured, at Cuba. The vast majority were released due to a lack of evidence. These abuses are the result of a system that metes out justice at the discretion of a president — as system created as an alternative to an independent legal process.

The tragedy is not that Hamdan was convicted. I do not know what the truly admissible evidence was against him, but his connection to Bin Laden is incriminating in itself. The tragedy is that justice was not done because he was not convicted in a way that makes the result credible and acceptable. We have now joined countries like China and Pakistan in using special military tribunals for people who we want to convict at any cost. The Bush tribunals are viewed, in my view correctly, as a rigged system. It lacks the essential element of legitimacy in the eyes of the world. This will fuel claims around the world that we are nothing but hypocrites in calling for the rule of law and independent justice.

We are better than this tribunal system, but we have left the impression that we cannot trust real courts because we are afraid of the results of a real trial.

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13 thoughts on “Bin Laden’s Driver Convicted in Military Tribunal”

  1. Puzzling,
    History will document this verdict as nothing more than a sham. The ends do not justify the means, at least that used to be the case in the America that I know.

  2. This verdict was a positive outcome for the administration because it allows the government to claim that the MCA trial system must necessarily be fair. After all, Hamdan was partially acquitted. The media coverage of this story today generally fits with this construct, as if American ideals of justice enjoyed a moral triumph today that transcended the wrongs of 9/11.

    The truth is that history will condemn this verdict as solidifying the tremendous and very real loss of hard won protections of the people from the actions of their own government. This “justice” is nothing less than a fool’s paradise, although apparently very few yet realize it.

  3. Russ,
    I am glad that you think insulting people and questioning their patriotism is an intelligent way to respond to a posting. However, when people start spewing crap, it is usually because they are ignorant of the facts being discussed. That seems to be the case here. Yes, I am unhappy. I am unhappy because people like you don’t consider it important enough to actually learn what your country is doing illegally. By the way, I am a patriot because I won’t settle for my country becoming a rogue member of the Free World. I won’t settle for a President deciding who is a terrorist and who is not and not a judge. I won’t settle for a President who breaks our own laws by allowing our CIA to torture people. I believe in the Constitution. Have you ever heard of it Russ? Take a few minutes and have someone read it to you. Then, even you might understand what is going on here.

  4. rafflaw, why the heck don’t you just get out of our country. you appear to be very unhappy. i think france would suit you better.

  5. Dundar,
    If there is only a few thousand more to go,does that mean the Do Not Fly list that has over One Million people on it, is no longer needed? Calling these stacked deck hearings a trial is a misnomer to say the least. These hearings allowed in evidence that was obtained via torture. No other credible country would allow a result obtained through torture. Oh, I forgot that we haven’t been a credible and law abiding country since Bush was appointed.

  6. One down, a few thousand to go.

    It’s wonderful seeing America totally defeat the terrorists.

    You would think they would start getting the message but they aren’t the smartest bunch of terrorists are they………..

  7. Meanwhile from the Bush style government:

    “America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists,” Bush will declare in the marquee speech of his three-nation Asia trip. “We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights _ not to antagonize China’s leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.”

    China has a Wal-mart union. What a hoot!

  8. That thing about a jury of one’s peers has become quite archaic to a modern democracy. The US Constitution demanding an “impartial jury” is getting quite old.

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