Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Inmates Running the Asylum

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court Tuesday overturned the terrorism conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden whose case has been one of the most tangled to emerge from the war-crimes trials of detainees held by the military at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The court found that Hamdan's conviction by a military commission of providing material support for terrorism could not stand because, under the international law of war in effect at the time of his actions, there was no such defined war crime.
Just so I'm clear, al-Qaeda has been at war with us since its founding in 1988.  In 1990, an al-Qaeda operative was arrested in New Jersey with all kinds of terrorist plans to attack within the United States.  The same operative was arrested for connection to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  By 1993, Osama bin Laden was, personally, operating most (if not all) of the al-Qaeda terrorist camps within the Sudan (this according to the US State Department). 



And then, the bombings began, including the US Embassy bombings of August 7, 1998 in Tanzania and Kenya.  That sounds like war crimes to me.  But, not according to the rule of law.  Not according to the Federal Appeals Court, who overturned a conviction of a military commission.  This is why the US Legal system should be nowhere near adjudication on terrorism.

And, about the defense on this case.  Just what is their thinking on how to combat terrorism?  Get a load of this.
Hamdan's attorney, Joe McMillan, a lawyer with Seattle-based Perkins Coie, said he regards the ruling as a victory for the American justice system.
"We see it as an important statement that the U.S. must conform to the rule of law as it goes forward, even in times of perceived national emergency," McMillan said.
The rule of law must be applied even in times of perceived national emergency.  So, in clarification, if we catch a terrorist in NYC knowing that somewhere in the city he placed a nuclear suitcase bomb, but without any idea where, we have to read him his rights and wait for his attorney to arrive so that he can tell us absolutely nothing. 

Shakespeare had the lawyer thing right...for sure.

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