Saturday, 20 November 2010

1 out of 285 ain't bad

So Ahmed Ghailani was found guilty on just one of the 285 terrorism related charges brought against him:
The first Guantanamo detainee tried in a US civilian court has been found guilty on just one out of 285 terror charges over the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa.

Tanzanian Ahmed Ghailani, 36, was found guilty of conspiracy to damage or destroy US property with explosives.

But he was cleared of many other counts including murder and murder conspiracy.

Ghailani faces a minimum of 20 years in prison. The verdict comes as the US weighs other civilian terror trials.

The BBC's Iain Mackenzie, in Washington, says the verdict in the Ghailani case will be seen as a huge blow to the Obama administration. (1)
The man aided the commission of a terrorist act, he has been tried and found guilty in a reputable court of law, using evidence that wasn't coerced by torture. Unfounded charges have been thrown out, as they should have been.

The American justice system has reasserted its primacy after years of the political-military complex ruling by decree. Some vague adherence to the Geneva conventions has been established. Obama has again shown he's retained some shreds of principle and decency. A massive load of dung has been dragged out of the Augean stables.

We don't have to behave abominably, we choose to. And to some extent, it justifies the hatred and contempt entertained for the West. Of course, its a shame that this anger it gets visited on us, rather than our leaders who deserve it. But - as Ward churchill pointed out, we're all responsible to a degree - we get to choose our leaders, and we know this shit is going on, we just don't care much until our faces get shoved in it.

We buy easy lies and propaganda because it makes it easier for us to live in an unjust world where we're the beneficiaries. Palestinian refugees subsisting in Gaza and the West Bank while Isreal slowly engorges itself? Stuff 'em, there's a war on Terror afoot, didn't you notice? Never mind that the Plaestinian issue is one of the rankest examples of injustice which leads to hatred. Israel is our ally, surrounded by hostile regimes, blah blah blah ...

Obama's supposed blundering on this issue shows at least a willingness to try to behave according to some standard of decency. Shame the bar was set so fucking low by the last administration that even this seems like progress.

Obama has been - as always - in a very difficult position where he's had to balance his principled instinct with a bit of realpolitik. Probably, he's done too much of the latter, which achieves little positive and only harms his reputation, but he's still making some progress in an incredibly difficult situation. It would be too easy to excoriate him - as some on the left are wont to - for not being pure and unsullied. But it's nice living in a vague and fluffy place where principles don't even have to meet reality.
1 - "Ghailani guilty of one charge for 1998 US embassy bombs," unattributed article. Published by the BBC, 18th of November, 2010. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11782346)

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