Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Ghailani Verdict

What was already the worst month in the life of the Obama administration just got a lot worse. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the man allegedly behind the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, was acquitted on 280 of 281 criminal counts in federal district court. Here’s John Podhoretz rubbing it in:
“The fact is that, over the course of the Bush administration, a legal regime was established to . . . deal[] with the legal complexities of the war on terror. The regime came under withering assault from liberals, but it was consistent, predictable, and had underlying logic. Now, almost certainly, we’re spinning off into complete improvisation — Gitmo remaining open when the administration has declared its intention to close it, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad about to be detained indefinitely under war terms his detainers in this administration have rejected. What the Bush people did was far more considered than it was given credit for being at the time, and now the people who claimed it was acting lawlessly are on the verge of true lawlessness — which is what law is when it is inconsistently and improvisationally applied.”
I'm assuming that this means that there aren't going to be any more civilian trials for alleged terrorists in the foreseeable future.  If so, does the administration have anything left to say for itself as the self-appointed champion of the rule of law? Not that I can think of. We’ll know for sure if Eric Holder suddenly decides he needs to spend more time with his family.


Anonymous said...

Game, Set and Match.

Lone Wolf said...

How could this guy have been part of the conspiracy to blow up gov't buildings and not be criminally liable for the death of the people that resulted from the explosions? I know the the inconsistency of a verdict can't be used against a criminal defendant, but this must have been a compromise verdict to satisfy a holdout juror.

Anonymous said...


Dave said...

A couple of posts back, you reminded us of these Obama quotes:

“[I]t is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States, but we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. And there has been no evidence on their part that we can't. . . .

"We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws."

Apparently, this premise was incorrect.

If you look back at the past two years, I expect that many of Obama's actions on terror matters -- e.g. not closing Gitmo, continuing predator strikes, indefinitely detaining KSM -- are due to him realizing that his premise was incorrect. And when facing a choice between his ideals and national security (because he's now realized that's NOT a "false choice", but one he's forced to make), he chooses national security. Some despise that choice, others admire it. But at a minimum, we should respect it.

This verdict is only the latest repudiation of his initial premise, which I believe (based on his actions) he's already abandoned. The difference this time is that this particular repudiation is both public and indisputable (and deeply troubling). In a sense, this verdict may provide exactly the opening Obama needs to assume a public stance that I think he's already taken privately: the admission that ideals and security are sometimes at definite odds, and the declaration that when they are, he will keep us safe.

Mean Voter said...

To Dave: Very well put. I am someone who is not a fan of Obama, and frankly my opinion of him sinks by the day. However, I would give Mr. Obama a lot of credit, and frankly would have newfound admiration for him, if he makes the public admission that you suggest. I would bet that his stock would rise in a lot of people's eyes. In these days of heightened security at airports and other checkpoints, it would be nice to have our commander-in-chief admit how dangerous a world we're living in and how we have to deal with terrorists as terrorists, and not giving them the same treatment as American citizens.