Most people have some vague notion that the Constitution guarantees a speedy trial. But when it comes to the U.S. war of terror the Constitution has been repeatedly lost in our so-called system of justice. It was lost again on July 13th, when a federal judge rejected the claim that a five year delay in being brought into court violated a defendant’s rights to a speedy trial.
The case is that of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. He is the first detainee formerly held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to be brought before the civilian court system for trial. Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that, “The government is entitled to attempt to hold Ghailani accountable in a court of law for his alleged complicity in the murder of 224 people and the injury of more than 1,000 others. Although the delay of this proceeding was long and entirely the product of decision for which the executive branch of our government is responsible, the decisions that caused the delay were not made for the purpose of gaining any advantage over Ghailani in the prosecution of this indictment.”
The judge went on to write in his decision that the five year delay in being brought to court “did not meaningfully infringe upon any interest protected by the right to a speedy trial.”
He then ironically wrote, “The court understands that there are those who object to alleged terrorists, especially non-citizens, being afforded rights that are enjoyed by U.S. citizens. Their anger at wanton terrorist attacks is understandable. Their conclusion, however, is unacceptable in a country that adheres to the rule of law.”
What rule of law is that your honor? If five years delay is a speedy trial and being held in a CIA hellhole and then the hellhole at Gitmo is the rule of law, that is enough said about the system of justice in this country.
The judge is right “that the decisions that caused the delay were not made for the purpose of gaining any advantage over Ghailani in the prosecution of this indictment.”
In fact the U.S. government originally had no intention of trying him whatsoever. Instead they intended to hold him indefinitely without any due process. Today thousands are held in the U.S. war of terror. They are held without charges and are subjected to torture and often death. Both the Bush regime and the Obama administration maintain that they can hold prisoners indefinitely and without due process afforded by the Constitution. Very few like Ghailani ever see the inside of a civilian courtroom. And if this ruling is upheld even these will not be afforded the rights under the Constitution.
This case in many ways is a test case for the Obama administration. Mr. Ghailani was taken prisoner in 2004. He was then held in one of the CIA secret hellholes and then transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Last year the Obama administration transferred him into the civilian court system. The administration has made sure that it intends to get convictions in these so-called terrorism cases at all costs. This includes ignoring the Constitution if it becomes an obstacle to the prosecution. While trying some alleged terrorists in civilian courts, the Obama lawyers are also trying them in kangaroo courts known as military tribunals.
Ghailani’s trial is set to start in New York this coming fall. He is charged with conspiracy in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa. During his incarceration he was subjected to specific interrogation techniques (also known as torture). These techniques remain classified and the judge issued a separate classified ruling in this case. The judge ruled that that the two years Mr. Ghailani spent in the C.I.A. torture chambers “served compelling interests of national security…Suffice it to say, the C.I.A. program was effective in obtaining useful intelligence from Ghailani throughout his time in C.I.A. custody.”
Oh well! Then I guess torture must be okay and follows the rule of law. This sounds fine to me your honor. This is the U.S. system of justice at its finest? This judge belongs on the U.S. Supreme Court as he clearly serves the interests of this imperialist system.