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Happy October Surprise! Detainee Convicted by Gitmo Commission

Way way back in the spring, when it became clear that the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay were going to render verdicts by the fall, a number of liberal friends worried in emails to me that the commissions were going to act as a de facto October surprise, ensuring a rush of fearmongering on terrorism that would sway the election to Sen. John McCain.

Ah, for the carefree days of spring. Funny how a credit crisis has its way with your expectations. This just arrived in my inbox from the Pentagon:

A military commission today found Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al Bahlul of Yemen guilty of conspiracy with Osama bin Laden and others to commit murder of protected persons, attacking civilians and other crimes. He was also found guilty of solicitation to commit murder of protected persons, to attack civilian objects, and to commit acts of terrorism.

In addition, the commission found him guilty of providing material support for terrorism by supporting Al Qaeda through meeting with the highest-ranking members of the organization and creating Al Qaeda propaganda including the widely distributed propaganda video, “The Destruction of the American Destroyer U.S.S. Cole.” All offenses were in violation of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

… and not even so much as a link from Drudge! What the hell, America? Care you not about Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al Bahlul of Yemen? Have you truly forgotten about 9/11?

For a serious response, here’s a statement from Jamil Dakwar of the ACLU, who observed al Bahlul’s commission.

“The conviction of Al Bahlul is yet another example of a military commission system set up to produce convictions, not to deliver real justice. Unfortunately, because the system is fundamentally flawed and lacks any semblance of due process, a cloud of illegitimacy hangs over this verdict. The world deserves better than that from America. The next president should close Guantánamo and future prosecutions should occur in criminal or military courts where the Constitution still means something and where verdicts, no matter what they are, can be trusted.”

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