Terrorist Ahmed Ghailani was convicted a couple of days ago just not in a way some people would have preferred. He was allegedly responsible for the bombings of the U.S. embassy in Tanzania back in 1998. He was convicted of conspiracy to destroy government property but not on any of the murder charges. There was a witness whose testimony could have gotten Ghailani convicted on the murder charges, but Judge Lewis Kaplan would not allow star witness Hussein Abebe to testify. Why? Because the U.S. government found out about this witness during Ghailani’s torture. So his testimony would have been inadmissible.
Conservatives have been grumbling over the courts decision. Some say he should have been tried in a military tribunal. The idea is that Ghailani would have been convicted of the murder charges in the stricter military court. But this is a faulty line of reasoning. Abebe’s testimony would not have been allowed in a military court either. Nevertheless conservatives are like Ohio’s own John Boehner are saying that Ghailani got off to easy, and that they would like to see other terrorists tried in military courts. The only reason I think that they would want this is that they really don’t want these people to get a fair trial. Timothy McVeigh was tried in a civilian court. I don’t see why it should be any different for any other terrorist.
In the south one hundred years ago, it would have been difficult for a black person to get a fair trial. I suppose it would have depended on the severity of the crime. But I imagine that if a white woman accused a black man of rape, then that man would be in some serious trouble. If you consider the statistics that we have gone over in class one could make the argument that even today African Americans are not getting a fair shake in the justice system. But as time went by the paradigm shifted at least a little. We pretty much all agree that at least in theory every citizen deserves a fair trial. What we don’t agree on is whether or not non-citizens deserve the same rights as us. We can look back at the one sided justice system in the American south and see obvious bigotry. Is trying to deny a fair trial to a foreigner no matter how heinous his crime any different?