Gitmo Detainee Verdict Highlights Obama's Bad Judgment

Friday, 19 Nov 2010 09:47 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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The trial of Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Ghailani demonstrates that President Barack Obama’s claim that enemy combatants can be tried effectively in civilian courts is bogus.

A federal jury convicted Ghailani of one count of conspiracy and acquitted him of 284 other counts, including murder and murder conspiracy, in the bombings of American embassies in Africa.

The verdict came after U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan barred testimony from a key witness who said he sold dynamite to Ghailani before the bombings.

The judge had ruled that the government learned of the witness only through the use of coercive interrogations at CIA prisons and thus his testimony would taint the process. Had Ghailani been tried in a military tribunal predicated on a war setting, most likely that ruling would not have been made.

“I was disappointed that they only got one guilty verdict out of 285 counts,” former CIA Director Michael Hayden tells me. “It shows the challenges of trying to do this in Article III courts with the traditional rules of evidence. From my professional point of view, I want foreign terrorists off the battlefield as enemy combatants. Whether or not they end up in any kind of judicial process is another matter entirely.”

While Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. have claimed that civilian trials will show the world that we respect human rights, the White House has leaked word that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted architect of the 9/11 plot, may never be tried during Obama’s term of office.

That topsy-turvy position demonstrates the hypocrisy of Obama’s stance, which in turn goes back to his desire to play politics with the war on terror and appease his left-wing constituency.

In a revealing passage in the new book “Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Bush White House,” Richard Wolffe quotes an unidentified Obama aide as saying of the president, “He reads everything. And I mean everything. Every news story, every column. It’s driving everyone crazy.”

In other words, Obama is so thin-skinned and obsessed with his image that he spends much of his time reading about himself. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s effort to call acts of terrorism “man-caused disasters” is a symptom of that tendency. By avoiding calling the enemy by its real name, Obama hopes to enhance his popularity overseas.

After the 9/11 attack, President Bush traveled to ground zero and stood on a crumpled fire engine with his hand on the shoulder of a firefighter named Bob Beckwith.

The crowd was shouting they couldn’t hear him. He turned and said, “I hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked down these buildings are going to hear from all of us soon.”

In deciding to try Ghailani in civilian court, President Obama showed that if he had been on the fire truck that day, his message would have been quite different.

He literally would have said that he intends to try the hijackers in civilian court, not recognizing that they were all dead, ignoring the fact that al-Qaida had declared war on the U.S.

"The Obama administration recklessly insisted on a civilian trial for Ahmed Ghailani and rolled the dice in a time of war,” Liz Cheney aptly said after the verdict. “The Department of Justice says it’s pleased by the verdict. Ask the families of the victims if they’re pleased. And this result isn’t just embarrassing. It’s dangerous. It signals weakness in a time of war.”
That puts all Americans at risk.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.

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