The trial of alleged Al Qaeda accomplice Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani has resulted in an acquittal on all major terrorism charges in New York. Ghailani was charged with crimes related to the 1998 suicide bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. I will be discussing the verdict tonight on Hardball.
Ghailani, a Tanzanian, was convicted only of one count of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property but cleared of 276 counts of murder and attempted murder. The important thing to note here is that this is a unanimous series of acquittal votes — not some hung jury.
The Obama Administration made little secret that it wanted the trial in New York — the scene of the 9-11 attacks. It did not help with the jury which found the evidence (as opposed to the emotions) lacking. The government still intends to seek life without parole on that one conspiracy charge.
In a truly disturbing response to the verdict, Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) denounced the jury verdict as “a total miscarriage of justice” and insisted “this tragic verdict demonstrates the absolute insanity of the Obama administration’s decision to try Al Qaeda terrorists in civilian courts.” Of course, no one would accuse New Yorkers as being ambivalent on terrorism.
Nevertheless, Rep. King’s solution to a jury of citizens acquitting an accused person is to rig the system to avoid such juries in the future. It is the most raw demonstration that the interest in the tribunal system is the view that it is outcome determinative and pre-set for convictions. Rep. King appears to be joining the Queen of Hearts that we must have a system that guarantees “sentence first, verdict afterwards.”
Here is tonight’s debate with Governor Pataki on Hardball (title on youtube is not my own):
Source: LA Times