Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Guantánamo traffic court

Half a dozen years later we finally have a ‘conviction’ at Guantánamo Dungeon for—TA DUM—driving.

Hamdan, whose name is already familiar to us for winning a Supreme Court decision on his unlawful detention (which did not, however, then end), now faces life imprisonment for having a job the U.S. military doesn’t approve of—being bin Laden’s driver. Maybe he even sympathized with the guy who employed him—another grave offense.

We knew there would be a guilty verdict in this absurd kangaroo court and were told as much by the Pentagon’s chief lawyer who argued, correctly, that it would look ridiculous to have held these guys for six or seven years with complete impunity to beat confessions out of them and then not be able to make a charge stick—in front of a military judge, no less.

That’s the perverse logic of having gone down the path of rump justice and torture in the first place: the stakes them become so enormous that you can’t simply back off and say, Oops! Made a mistake!

Galileo said when hounded by the Catholic Church for arguing that the earth revolves around the sun that persecutors always must redouble their efforts when they’re wrong. He knew what he was talking about and only had to wait 300-some-odd years to be rehabilitated.

Maybe Hamdan is guilty of something more serious in which case the obvious question is, Why not try him before a civilian court by the established procedures? Do they fear some closet sympathizers with Islamic fundamentalism in the jury pool will conspire to let him off? Or is it too dangerous to see how flimsy the evidence accumulated in all these years of rough stuff really is?

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