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June 09, 2009

Welcome To America! Obama Administration Brings Gitmo Detainee To NY For Civilian Trial

War is over, back to law enforcement.

Ghailani faces multiple charges and, if convicted, could face the death penalty for his role in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

"With his appearance in federal court today, Ahmed Ghailani is being held accountable for his alleged role in the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the murder of 224 people," Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. "The Justice Department has a long history of securely detaining and successfully prosecuting terror suspects through the criminal justice system, and we will bring that experience to bear in seeking justice in this case."

Ghailani was indicted in New York before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, captured three years later and held in a secret CIA prison overseas before being placed in Guantanamo in 2006. Four of his named co-conspirators have already been tried and convicted and are serving life sentences in a super-maximum security prison in Colorado.

Well, I guess that indictment really put the fear of God into al Qaeda! It really stopped them from ever attacking us again. Why wouldn't we want to replicate that wonderful strategy?

Andy McCarthy who led the prosecution of the terrorists in the first WTC bombing and long time critic of trying terrorists in civilian courts is worried.

Of course, the issue has never been whether we can get terrorism convictions in federal courts (and while most terrorists have been securely detained in federal prisons, not all have). The question is whether prosecution in civilian courts is a sound national security strategy given (a) the limited capacity of the system to apprehend and bring international terrorists to trial, and (b) the generous due process rules which force us to disclose skads of intelligence to terrorists — and expose our sources to testify against terrorists — even as their network is still at large and still committed to killing us. That latter seems like it shouldn't be much of a concern with Ghailani, but even this is by no means certain.

The charges entail not only narrow murder counts focused on the bombing but very broad conspiracy charges (including the overarching al-Qaeda conspiracy to murder Americans). Broad charges trigger broad discovery obligations. Rest assured Ghailani's lawyers will ask for every shred of information in the government's files, even for years after the embassy attacks — arguing that, since the government has chosen to charge Ghailani with that conspiracy, and since it contends the al-Qaeda conspiracy continues to this day, Ghailani is entitled to all relevant information in the government's possession regarding al-Qaeda.

Letting the lawyers for terrorists rifle through classified information...what could go wrong?

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posted by DrewM. at 01:36 PM

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