Blog of Rights

Hamdan Trial a "Disaster"

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 5:15pm

If there was ever any doubt that the military commissions process, and Guantanamo in general, are a stain on the United States' record, you need only see the headline from today's U.K.-based The Times, which reads: "Bin Laden driver Salim Hamdan trial a disaster for George Bush."

After seeking 30 years in prison for Hamdan, in a military tribunal, before a military jury, and in a trial where many rights normally afforded defendants in a civilian court were greatly curtailed, the five and a half year sentence was nothing short of a disaster for the Bush administration.

…The Bush administration has been accused of expediting Hamdan's hearing so that they could get the tribunal system under way to force Mr Bush's successor to maintain it. Last night's verdict was the last thing they wanted — or expected.

It's hard to believe the White House and Pentagon's comments that the administration is pleased with the outcome. A good deal of analysis, including the ACLU's own, concludes that the material support conviction, coupled with the light sentence, was meant as a rebuke to the White House — the jury of six military officers’ way of sending a signal that the trial doesn’t live up to the rule of law. This sentiment was apparent among many early on, starting with prominent figures such as Alberto Mora, Antonio Taguba and Mo Davis speaking out against these proceedings.

Someone else of prominence who's speaking out against Guantanamo is former President Jimmy Carter, who yesterday issued a statement of support for our John Adams Project.

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