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Gitmo Detainee to Appear in New York Court

It’s funny how on the same day that that the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in federal court arrives in New York for booking in a federal prison, the Justice Department decides to send out a “fact sheet” detailing all the wonderful success it’s had prosecuting terrorists in U.S. federal courts.

Ahmed Ghailani, a Tanzanian seized in Pakistan in 2004 suspected of participation in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, spent two years under interrogation in a secret CIA prison before being sent to Guantanamo in 2006.

Given that he’d already been indicted in federal court for the 1998 charges, though, the Obama administration decided to just try him there, where it apparently believes he should have been tried all along. After all, he’s not charged with having anything to do with the 9-11 attacks, which is what the prison at Guantanamo Bay was supposedly set up to deal with.

To reinforce the point that the federal court system is perfectly capable of handling Ghailani’s case, the Justice Department today has sent out this fact sheet listing some of the major international terror cases that have been tried in the Southern District of New York, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which led to the conviction and life sentences of six plotters.

The fact sheet also notes that there are now 216 inmates in federal prisons with connection to international terrorism — and surprisingly, none have escaped and rampaged in their local federal prison communities.

Of course, this all raises the question: if the government is so proud of its record prosecuting international terrorists, then why doesn’t it just transfer all the Gitmo prisoners it has evidence against and charge them in U.S. federal courts?

Why is the administration still intent on creating new military commissions, and even holding some suspects indefinitely without trial?

Coincidentally, the Senate Judiciary Committee today is addressing the question of indefinite detention at a hearing entitled, “The Legal, Moral, and National Security Consequences of Prolonged Detention.”

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