War On Terror: In sight of where the World Trade Center stood, Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard goes on trial. Once again, terror is treated as a law enforcement matter. The administration has learned nothing.
It’s still a mystery to us why an enemy combatant and mass murderer captured on a foreign battlefield and facing 286 charges for his terrorist activities is entitled to his day in an American civilian court.
The appearance of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani in federal court on Monday is the inevitable result of Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo, plan or no plan, and his firm belief that the war on terror, now just an “overseas contingency operation,” is also just a law enforcement matter. This is a view that was shared by President Clinton with tragic results. During an interview with ABC News last year, candidate Obama indicated that like Clinton in 1993 after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, he would treat the war on terror as a law enforcement matter. He has kept this campaign promise. Ghailani, a Tanzanian, was indicted in 1998 for bombings that killed 12 Americans.
Prosecutors say he helped build one of the bombs. He began his career delivering bomb parts on a bicycle and rose through the terrorist ranks to become bin Laden’s bodyguard.
Placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list in 2001, Ghailani was identified by Attorney General John Ashcroft in May 2004 as one of seven plotting another terrorist attack on America. Two months later Ghailani was captured after an eight-hour battle with Pakistani police in the town of Gujrat. In 2006 he was brought to Gitmo.
“With his appearance in federal court today, Ahmed Ghailani is being held accountable for his alleged role in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the murder of 224 people,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press release.
We’d like to see this monster get his just reward, but don’t believe a civilian court is the proper forum. Ghailani will benefit from a law enforcement standard in civil court, where rules of evidence do not account for the circumstances of war.