Osama Bin Laden’s Bodyguard Can be Tried by Military Tribunal
A Federal Appeals Court has sided with the Bush Administration that Osama Bin Laden’s alleged bodyguard can be tried by a military tribunal.
A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that a Guantanamo prisoner accused of being Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard could be tried by a military tribunal, reversing a lower court decision that such a trial was unlawful and would violate his rights. In a victory for the government, the three-judge panel said the military tribunal process at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the proper forum for Salim Ahmed Hamdan to be tried. If Hamdan were convicted, he could then contest his conviction in federal court after exhausting his options through the military justice system, the panel said.
The ruling means that Hamdan’s case, which was halted in November, can continue. Three other prisoners have also been charged and referred to the commission for the tribunal process. Hamdan has been charged with conspiracy to commit attacks on civilians, murder, destruction of property and terrorism. Hamdan is also accused of being bin Laden’s personal driver in Afghanistan between 1996 and November 2001.
Hamdan’s trial was halted by a district court judge who declared the military tribunal procedures unlawful. U.S. District Judge James Robertson had ruled that the trial could not proceed until a decision had been made on whether Hamdan was a prisoner of war under the Geneva Conventions. The appeals court said that ruling was wrong, and said the Geneva Conventions do not help Hamdan. “One problem for Hamdan is that he does not fit the … definition of a ‘prisoner of war’ entitled to the protection of the convention,” Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote in a 20-page ruling. “Another problem for Hamdan is that the 1949 Convention does not apply to al Qaeda and its members.”
I would have been shocked had they ruled otherwise.