hamde.jpg Hamdan

The verdict this morning in the first war crimes trial at Gitmo - where Seattle attorneys are helping defend Salim Hamdan, the accused terrorist

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Hamdan Convicted

hamde.jpg Hamdan

The verdict this morning in the first war crimes trial at Gitmo - where Seattle attorneys are helping defend Salim Hamdan, the accused terrorist and Osama bin Laden's former driver - is semi-guilty.

The panel of six military officers reached a split verdict, clearing Hamdan of conspiracy charges but convicting him of supporting terrorism, which could send him to prison for life.

Of course, being Gitmo in the Bush era, even if he'd been found not guilty, the accused would have remained imprisoned.

The White House has declared Hamdan an enemy combatant and under the Bush version of the Constitution, that's a permanently guilty finding - a variation of "Let's give him a fair trial then hang him."

"The eyes of the world are on Guantanamo Bay," U.S. District Judge James Robertson said last month after declining to halt the first Gitmo trial by the military commission. "Justice must be done there, and must be seen to be done there fairly and impartially." Was it?

As Carol Williams reported in the LA Times, it wasn't exactly a jury of Hamdan's peers: the pool of 13 military officers included many with friends and colleagues who were at the scenes of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks or other crimes linked to Al Qaeda.

The 13 potential jurors were whittled down to six and one alternate in less than half a day of questioning and challenges from prosecutors and defense attorneys. That compares with a six-month process involving 550 potential jurors in the U.S. District Court trial of alleged "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla last year for the same charges.

The NY Times today, citing Seattle attorney Harry Schneider, noted that:

Defense lawyers argued that there was no evidence that Mr. Hamdan, a Yemeni with a fourth-grade education, was involved in planning any Qaeda operations or had advance knowledge of the specifics of any planned attacks. They claimed that his role as a driver was just a job for a father of two who “had to earn a living,” as one of his lawyers, Harry H. Schneider Jr., said.

But prosecutors insisted that Hamdan protected and ferried around bin Laden to elude detection after several terror attacks, including the 2001 U.S. attacks and the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

 
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