Gitmo Conviction

by Ryan on August 6, 2008

in Politics,War on Terror

Weeping as the verdict was read, Bin Laden’s old driver Salim Hamdan was found guilty of terrorism, not conspiracy, by a six-member military tribunal.  Since he was only convicted on the first count, he’ll probably just have his stay at Gitmo extended for the rest of his life. 

US troops found him in a car in Afghanistan in November 2001 with two SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) in his car… but he claimed only to be a simple mechanic.  Perhaps a jury in LA would have bought that, but not this tribunal.  Wait, that could be sooner than later!

The MSM is all about the “split” nature of this decision and not the progress of having the trial produce a conviction in the first place.  Granted one only needs a majority of the tribunal to bring a conviction, but it’s a good start!  Despite the spin, I think this decision is great.  I think that bringing these trials earlier would also have had the effect of keeping terrorism in the news, while quieting the critics.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

rightonoz August 6, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I know we will not agree on this, however this trial did not meet any standards of justice, regardless of whether the guy was guilty. Secret evidence, torture, hearsay… My credit goes to the military defense lawyers who have put their careers in jeopardy attempting to stand up for the defendants basic rights.

On the subject of justice, another big step backwards in the US this week with the execution of the Mexican in Texas after the international court found the US in violation of it’s treat obligations by failing to provide consular access. Even Bush (the greatest pro death penalty apologist in existence, wait, Jeb is trying to beat him on that) reluctantly asked Texas not to proceed until Congress had the opportunity to frame laws to enable the country to meet it’s treaty obligations. But then, both houses sat on their hands, choosing instead to go on further pork barrel spending sprees instead. Texas, in typical Texan fashion said screw you, we have the right as the law stands and will do so just to prove the point. Forget the crime, arguments about the death penalty, this is all about the US’s international credibility.

The reality of this decision (regardless of your constitution and state rights) is that no treaty the US signs is worth the paper it is written on. The US therefore has no legal or moral basis to demand other countries honour treaties they sign. Nuclear no-proliferation, you name it. If the US cannot or will not honour it’s treaties and put in place laws to ensure so, why the hell should anyone give any credence to US posturing on any global issue.

I know your constitution says…. but this is a fundamental issue about the US’s ability or willingness to honour treaties it expects the rest of the world to honour. I also see the poor Brit sucker who hacked the Pentagon and faces life, (international IT experts say his intrusion was minor and mainly a point proving exercise, the Pentagon, looking for blood and in a rush to cover their own IT incompetence insist it was horrendous damage, sufficient to get a lengthy sentence as a deterrent)lost his last appeal in the UK and will be extradited for what will not be any fair trial on the basis of a treaty the US refuse to ratify – sending a message, we expect you to honour treaties, even if we have no intention of doing so. Shame the Brits don’t have the balls to tell the US, ‘ratify and put in place laws to honour this treaty or we will not honour it’.

Sorry, but a very low week that further undermines the US’s standing in the international community. Pity, coming after such a good week in Iraq

Speaking of Iraq I haven’t seen comment from you yet on the MASSIVE $80B budget surplus they are heading towards, while the world (mainly US) pour in billions in reconstruction aid. Time for someone to tell them to start paying their own way!

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Mike August 6, 2008 at 5:31 pm

Way to vent your anti-US frustration (which is undoubtedly based on biased anti-US sources) Oz. Since we’ve gone back and forth countless times on most of the issues you raise, I will merely make two points.

1. There is no evidence, none whatsoever, that the US condones torture, and no I will not go along with the defined down version.

2. Define hearsay and identify the declarant, which out of hearing statement you contend was hearsay and why.

We usually disagree and always respectfully, but that comment was beneath you.

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rightonoz August 6, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Mike,

I am not anti US. ‘Some of my best friends are Yanks”.

I have extensive ties with the US, respect the immense positive impact the US has had on world events over it’s short existence. Some US presidents have been truly world class statesmen, something I could not ever contemplate about the current administration.

I have significant business ties with US companies, and in fact own a US company.

What I do have is a significant issue with the curent government which seems hell bent on running rough shod over every convention established by the many fine prior administrations. I remain gobsmacked that something as crucial as the federal governments right to make binding international treaties has not been incorporated into a constituional ammendment or such other.

Torture. The current government has acted upon and defended the practice of waterboarding a practice that the US declared torture and in fact a war crime during WWII when used by the Japansese, and by the Vietnamese (by the way had a great time there last month – really are great people, shame about their politics), Sleep depravation to the extent reported in this and other cases has similarly been considered torture by previour US administrations and all civilised countries. Your previous Attorney General defended it, and the curernt one neatly sidesteped the issue in his confirmation.

The current Miliary commission system authorises the use of hearsay evidence. Because much evidence in the current trial was in secret session, some of it not even available to the defendant, we cannot know how much hearsay was used, however reports based on what has been released suggest that in part at least some was.

I agree my comments on the treaty side were a bit of a vent, however from frustration. I see international treaties and the adhearance to by all signatories as one of the defining actions that separate us from despots, and the current apparent trend in the US weakening our (the coalition) moral high ground. It may have been a little over the top, however was based on my (and many other’s) concerns about the weakening of the international moral norm. I know, war on terror, etc however Jefferson himself had something profound to say on freedoms..

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Mike August 6, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Oz:

Love the quote about friends being Yanks. I hope you include us (I’ll settle for “sometimes include us.”)

1. That’s the defined-down version of the word I just referred to. My problem with misusing the word “torture” is that people who invoke the word are attempting to project the image of this http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0524072torture1.html when in fact they mean something else. You’re discussing sleep deprivation and water boarding. There are arguments for and against those techniques depending on the severity of the circumstances. But to call those tactics torture when torture has always meant those actions depicted in the link I provided (that is until Bush opponents needed a loaded word to oppose him) is misleading. I do not think that is your intent, but so many people (lefties mostly) try to be sneaky with their language

2. You referred to the government. I could be mistaken here, but I take that to mean “government” in the Parliamentary sense, such as the Gordon Brown government or Kevin Rudd government (nice going Aussie friends). If you referring to the Bush government, then you should be reminded that the Bush government agreed with your position before the court on the case you referred to.

If you recall, I supported that court decision based on the Constitutional principle of federalism. The court reached the same conclusion for a different reason. That reason was that the terms of the treaty itself did not require the action you supported. I hold to the position that a treaty cannot require such action, but that is a hypothetical because the terms of the treaty contained no requirement.

3. As an attorney, I can tell you that legal systems throughout the world have hearsay prohibitions with exceptions so numerous they almost swallow the rule. The admission of hearsay evidence is nothing out of the ordinary in legal matters. There is nothing outrageous about hearsay as such (if that actually happened), especially when there is other corroborating evidence.

I must say though that I sincerely appreciate your recognition of the Constitution as the supreme law of the US even when you don’t like the results that principle often yields and your reference to international norms. Some see that as a semantic thing but I think its important.

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rightonoz August 7, 2008 at 12:36 am

My friends and I (yes I’d like to count you all as such) often have long and loud debates, before during and after a drink or over a dinner.

We vary from decorated ex military, to ex CEO’s, curent and ex CEO’s who were also decorated military with an average 2 university degree’s a piece, plus numerous Post Grad diploma’s, but to hear the discussions at time you’d swear we were all brickie’s labourers.

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