Judge Lewis Kaplan opened the envelope with the charge sheet in it, read the verdict to himself, and then read it again. “There will be no outbursts,” he said, a statement that seemed odd given that there were no Ghailani family members present. The young foreman spoke from the raised jury box as Ghailani watched intently. Count one: not guilty. Count two, not guilty. By the time the foreman got to count four, the courtroom felt as if it had been transported to another galaxy. Count five: guilty. Counts six to 286: Not guilty. The words rang out over and over again, to no apparent reaction; far from outburst, it seemed as if no one had anything to say. By the end, the defendant stood convicted of one charge—conspiring to damage US property
Really, why does anyone even bother? The Right will throw a hissy about anything short of torturing terrorists to death on Pay Per View (even some on NPR are wringing their hands about this shameful acquittal of a terrrist!). And Obama defenders will point to this travesty as a demonstration of the return of the “rule of law” when of course, we are talking about some sort of stylized theatrical display where the disposition of the accused is never in question.
BECAUSE, as Glenn Greenwald notes, even had Ghailani been acquitted on all counts, “the Obama administration had made clear that it would simply continue to imprison him anyway under what it claims is the President’s ‘post-acquittal detention power.'”
It’s supposed to be extremely difficult for the Government to win the right to put someone in a cage for their entire lives, or to kill them. Having lived under a tyranny in which there were very few barriers impeding the leader’s desire to imprison or otherwise punish someone — and having waged a war to escape that oppression — the Founders designed it this way on purpose. And they did so with the full knowledge that clearly guilty and even extremely evil people would sometimes receive something other than the punishment they deserve. Here’s how Thomas Jefferson weighed those considerations, as expressed in a 1791 letter: “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”
“The inconveniencies attending too much liberty”–now there’s a notion from another time. So really, why bother? This is still about tiny distinctions between two parties who are in agreement about the Government’s absolute right to “put someone in a cage for their entire lives” regardless of what happens in their rigged courts.