Thursday, November 18, 2010

Torture and the constitution: The fury beings with the Ghailini trial

Now we get to the discussion we’ve long expected.

Civilian courts do not allow testimony obtained through torture. The GOP is the party of torture, so they are enraged.

Incidentally, this NYT article has one of the most misleading and lousy headlines of the past few months atop an article that buries everything that matters.

What is being tested here is not Obama’s strategy, but rather America’s care of its Constitution (emphases mine). America will fail …

Terror Verdict Tests Obama’s Strategy on Trials -

Ahmed Ghailani will face between 20 years and life in prison as a result of his conviction on one charge related to the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa. But because a jury acquitted him on more than 280 other charges — including every count of murder — critics of the Obama administration’s strategy on detainees said the verdict proved that civilian courts could not be trusted to handle the prosecution of Al Qaeda terrorists.

… the reason some Guantánamo cases are hard to prosecute is that under the Bush administration, evidence was obtained by coercion, creating a problem for prosecutors regardless of the legal venue

… many observers attributed any weakness to the prosecution’s case to the fact that the Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the trial, refused to allow prosecutors to introduce testimony from an important witness apparently because investigators discovered the man’s existence after interrogators used abusive and coercive techniques on Mr. Ghailani

… But the question of where Mr. Mohammed will be prosecuted has remained in limbo, and Mr. Holder has made no more referrals from the detainee population to either system.

While Judge Kaplan could still sentence Mr. Ghailani to a life sentence, even some proponents of civilian trials acknowledged that his acquittal on most of the charges against him was damaging to their cause because it was a stark demonstration that it was possible that a jury might acquit a defendant entirely in such a case

“The paradox with these kinds of cases has always been that if these individuals are found not-guilty, will the American government let them go free, which is the construct of a criminal proceeding? And the answer is no. That is the reality. This case highlights that tension, and will complicate the political debate about how to handle more senior Al Qaeda figures, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed cannot be convicted in a constitutionally valid trial because he was abundantly tortured. That was one of the GOP’s gifts to America.

The GOP has been, and will be, the party of torture. That is the source of their rage; they love their vision of the Constitution, but they hate the reality of the Constitution.

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