The military judge, Capt. Keith J. Allred of the Navy, had already said that he planned to give the driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, credit for at least the 61 months he has been held since being charged, out of more than six years in all. That would bring Mr. Hamdan to the end of his criminal sentence in five months. After that his fate is unclear, because the Bush administration says that it can hold detainees here until the end of the war on terror.Here's a question. Why does the Times think that the military commission didn't do its job if they ultimately found him not guilty of the most serious charges and then sentenced him to time served plus 5.5 years?
The unexpectedly short sentence came after Mr. Hamdan was acquitted Wednesday of the most serious charge against him, conspiracy, having been convicted only of material support for terrorism. The extraordinary conclusion to the first of the post-Sept. 11 war crimes trials — a case that led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2006 blocking a prior effort to prosecute him — once again raised many of the questions that have long surrounded the Bush administration’s military commission system here, which it plans to use to try another 80 detainees.
The sentence was far less than military prosecutors had sought. Through more than five years of proceedings, prosecutors had pursued a life sentence. Earlier in the day, faced with Mr. Hamdan’s acquittal on the most serious charge against him, the prosecutors recommended a sentence of at least 30 years and had said life might still be appropriate.
“Your sentence,” a prosecutor, John Murphy, told the panel, “should say the United States will hunt you down and give you a harsh but appropriate sentence if you provide material support for terrorism.”
If this is indeed the kangaroo court that the anti-Bush leftists continue to intimate, they would have gone ahead and proffered a life sentence. They did not do so. The court and the jury executed their duties and obligations faithfully and within the law. Any suggestion to the contrary actually highlights the outright distaste of the New York Times and the anti-war leftists who seek to engage in lawfare and hamstring the government's efforts to keep the nation safe and detain these terrorists.
Perhaps the court found Hamdan's apologies sufficient. The court appears to have bent over backwards to show itself to be fair and impartial by imposing a relatively lenient sentence. The Times wants to spin the sentence as an indictment against the tribunal system and the expenses made in running the tribunal and the court fights, even though it shows that the system actually works.
My concern is that I expect Hamdan to be released in December, and we'll find him fighting against the US sometime soon - and either captured or killed on a field of battle in some far flung corner of the world.
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