Hamdan - do we have the right to charge him with anything?

Salim Hamdan has recieved a 5 1/2 year sentence, for driving and guarding Osama bin Laden. He’s already been in Guantanamo Bay for 5 years and one month, so his sentence will be finished in 5 months, even though the US military says that won’t release anyone they consider a threat.

So we are back to…
A guy, not a US citizen, in a country, not the US, is sentenced for being a driver and a body guard to someone the US government (ok, and a lot of other people) don’t like. He was not found guilty of providing missiles to al-Qaida, not guilty of planning attacks on the US.

So, just what did Hamdan do to deserve 65 months in Guantanamo? How is he any different then any other bodyguard out there, like the Secret Service or private security?

Others will likely be able to argue this more forcefully, but the administration would argue that Mr. Hamdan knew that he was joining and participating in a terrorist organization that was organized to carry out asymmetric war in a manner inconsistent with the Geneva Conventions, namely by not wearing regular uniforms, deliberately targeting civilians, etc.

International law is a tricky and controversial subject. How can the ICC (International Criminal Court) go after people from non-signatory nations like Serbian war criminals?

Because possession is 9/10ths of the law. If the ICC has the logistical means and the desire to arrest you and put you within a trial context that you may or may not agree is fair, they’ll do it and there really isn’t anything you can do about it.

The US military happened to gain possession of Mr. Hamdan, and the reality is that as a nation we aren’t inclined to wantonly release members of an organization centered around our destruction. I’m not arguing that gives us the moral right to put people like Mr. Hamdan through kangaroo courts, and indeed our Supreme Court has decided that detainees such as Mr. Hamdan do have some sort of right to challenge their detention, and if tried, to a trial with some type of fundamental fairness. The Supreme Court has not granted all of the protections an American citizen might have, and they have consistently rejected Bush administration schemes to try detainees that they didn’t feel met a certain basic standard of fairness.

Will the Supreme Court find in the future that Mr. Hamdan’s trial was unfair? Perhaps.

But right now, the initial results from the current mechanism to try Guantanamo detainees does not appear to be some farce of a trial designed to swiftly produce guilty verdicts followed by capital sentences. The most recent series of events with Mr. Hamdan has not offended my intrinsic sense of justice in the same way that previous efforts to “try” detainees has.

My knowledge of the case is pretty cursory, but I was thinking about this too.

On the one hand, he seemed to kind of admit that what he did was wrong, and from what I got out of it, he knew it was a dangerous/illegitimate/criminal job when he took it. He also thanked the jury for a lenient sentence, which seemed to be a bit of a mea culpa.

On the other hand, he seems to have been convicted of crimes that were made illegal specifically to convict him, after he committed them. I’m no rocket surgeon, but I believe this is ex post facto and illegal under Article I of the constitution.

Does he shift to POW (Prisoner of the War on Terror) after he finishes his sentence for criminal acts? We can hold POWs until the end of a war, so does that mean he is in prison until we are no longer at “war” with Al Qaeda?

I don’t think he’d qualify as a POW-- he wasn’t part of any country’s military. One problem he may have is finding a country to accept him if he is released. That has been a problem for a number of detainees. At any rate, it will be left to future presidents to deal with Hamdan and the rest of the mess Bush made of the detainee situation.

He probably sang like a canary and recieved a verdict of essentially time served.


Probably so, and in the process it became obvious that he didn’t know D for diddly squat about AlQ. The prosecutors were stuck with trying to present him as an evil, evil chauffeur.

We would be remiss if we did not note with approval that he got a fair trial and a fair sentence from the military court that tried him. These men may very well have chucked their careers into the crapper, but, to all appearances, answered the call of justice in what used to be the finest American tradition.

I am proud to have such men as these wear our uniform.

That’s the beauty of the “unlawful combatant” designation – a person so designated has neither the rights of a criminal suspect or convict under American law, nor the protections of a POW under international law.

Nor, apparently, any legal recourse to challenge the designation.

Don’t get me wrong. I find it encouraging that the trial went the way it did. To me it looks like the jury was saying “Fine. You’ve had him locked up for 5 years. We’ll make his sentence just over 5 years, and then you are stuck with explaining why he’s still in prison.”

My question is more, under what authority is Mr. Hamdan required to adhere to US law in the first place? It’s not like the US can send law enforcement into Europe and arrest anyone caught buying absinthe or buying Cuban cigars.

No, but the crime here in question was committed on US soil (NYC and Washington, D.C.) I’m not familiar enough with Hamdan to comment on his case, but your hypothetical doesn’t make sense.

Do you think that if I conspire with someone here in Florida who then drives to Georgia to commit murder that I am exempt from the laws of the state of Georgia since my physical presence was in Florida? That’s never been the way the law works.

If you plan a murder to be committed in NYC (the 9/11 attacks) in a rural village in Honduras, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law…

But, as I wrote in my original post

Which brings me back to, what did Hamdan do that the US actually has jurisdiction over?

And if you bought a tank of gas at my gas station on your way there, am I now an accomplice?


Do we have the right to charge him with anything? Of course we do. Is it right to charge him with anything? I’m…unsure.

On the one hand, I would think that just being a member of a known terrorist group, regardless of what your role was, is enough to convict you of something. I mean, if you are a member of The Mob as the guy who drives the big boss around on illegal things, aren’t you an accessory? Even if all you did was drive the big bossman about? I guess only a lawyer would know the answer to this…I certainly don’t, though it SEEMS like it would be the case.

I think 5 years is sufficient for whatever he’s done though…or at least whatever we KNOW he’s done.


“…enough to convict you of something…”

Now there’s a wistful little phrase.

And people jump all over my type when we wish for “something” to result in adverse consequences for Shrubya, Karl, and Deadeye Dick.

I guess might really does make right. My tribe uber alles and all that rot. Pip pip!

Btw. 1) Serbia is a signatory of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 2) So far no Serbs have been indicted by that court. You are probably thinking of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, also in the Hague but otherwise unrelated.

Uhuh…your knee jerk reaction to my post isn’t a bit wistful in return though. Shame really…hope you didn’t kick yourself in the head with that much jerkage…

Ah…so, you ignored not only my admission that I’m not a lawyer but hope to hear from someone who actually DOES have a clue, as well as my tentative assertion of accessory in your trout like leap on the ‘something’ part of my post?

Well, a couple of things. First off, might does make right…that’s a given. Secondly this isn’t a matter of ‘My tribe uber alles’…though your post is certainly full of ‘all that rot’, no doubt about that.

The fact that this guy was simply a driver doesn’t excuse him from collusion or being an accessory to crimes committed by the guy he was driving around. I’m curious exactly why people think it does actually. Like in my example (which you leaped over in your trout like haste to jerk your knee and blather on about various points south) of a mob boss, just because the guy didn’t pull the trigger doesn’t mean he is innocent of crimes. And the fact that he is the equivalent of Al Capones (times about a hundred) driver makes him even more suspect.

That said, I don’t see why people are freaked by the sentence…hell, he’s getting time served after all. He serves out his 6 months and he walks. Now…if they DON’T let him go at that point, THEN you can bitch and moan about it.

Unless an actual lawyer wants to wander in and say why he is completely innocent of course…without all the hyperbolic bullshit about might making right and tribes and such. As I said, IANAL…and I’m guessing no one else in this thread is either.


Well, forgive me; I wasn’t really talking about Hamdan. Maybe when I get over my bitterness that the evil pigfuckers presently in the WH are not going to suffer any consequences for what they turned my country into, I’ll be able to pay some serious attention to this smallest-of-fry.

I suppose I shouldn’t have ventured my opinion on what was not the actual subject. Wrt Hamdan, like you, I look forward to some professional attention to the question of whether the U.S. had the jurisdiction to try him on the charge that he was convicted of.

Knee-jerk? That stings, man. I’d prefer something more classy, like “lime-soaked madeleine.”

Ah…and see, here I thought that was the topic of debate. We’ve had tons (literally…and we are talking about electron weight here) of ‘Bush is the sucks!’ threads.

C’est la vie, ehe? FWIW, I don’t think of you as a ‘lime-soaked madeleine’…