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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/8/08

Hamdan Case Exemplifies Bush's Failure in the "War on Terror"

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On August 6th, Osama bin Laden's former driver, Salim Hamdan, was convicted of aiding terrorism but acquitted of more serious conspiracy charges. The next day, the jury sentenced Hamdan to 5 1/2 years in prison -- much less than the 30 years to life that the prosecution wanted. The sentence includes the five years and one month that Hamdan has already served at Gitmo, so he may be free in as little as five months. This is the Bush administration's big news-making catch, their showcase trial in the "war on terror". And it is pathetic. The trial was a fiasco, a kangaroo court, in clear violation of international human rights standards. But, of course, the Bushies seem to believe that they are above the law, or they make it up as they go along. Pursuant to the provisions of the unfortunate Military Commissions Act of 2006, the prosecution used secret evidence, much of which wasn't provided to the defense until hours before the trial, if at all. That "evidence" included information obtained by coercion, which experts agree is usually unreliable. (John McCain himself once exemplified this by recalling how, when asked under torture in Vietnam to provide his captors with the names of the members of his flight squadron, instead rattled off the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, "knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse.") But those practical concerns don't seem to matter. We must obtain convictions at any cost, because it looks good. It's all politics. Fortunately, the jury recognized that Hamdan is not the "worst of the worst", as the Bushies like to call our Gitmo detainees. He was a two-bit player, a poor shmuck who chose the wrong car to drive for a living. And for that he has suffered five years of abuse and interrogation. Ironically, for all of Bush's tough talk in the "war on terror", this is what he's got to show for it. Meanwhile, bin Laden remains free and the terrorist threat remains stronger than ever. God bless America.
"I don't know where [Osama bin Laden] is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him." -- George W. Bush, in a press conference, Washington, DC, March 13, 2002


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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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