The first trial of a suspected terrorist held at the less than luxurious hotel in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has now concluded. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the former driver for Osama bin Laden, has been found guilty. This was not really much of a surprise. He openly admitted that he took a job driving Osama around, and was paid the princely sum of $200 a month to do so.

He was picked up and shipped to Gitmo 5 years ago, and classed as an ‘Enemy Combatant’.  The prosecution were seeking a 30 year sentence, however the military jury instead sentenced him to a more manageable 66 months, and the Judge had previously stated that time served would be credited. So this means that he will be free to go in another 5 months?

Well not exactly, in five months he will still be an Enemy Combatant, and the Bush administration has made it abundantly clear that with this designation they can imprison people indefinitely. The one concession being that having been through the ‘justice system’ there will be an annual review of his status.

Having created the monster that Gitmo has become in the worlds eyes, this latest move is asinine. Why even bother to have the trial, and sentence the prisoner if you have no intentions of releasing him afterwards.

It seems to me that in the 60’s, 70’s and even the early 80’s this was the kind of actions that we accused the USSR of doing, and we made a great big fuss about it. Lack of access to real legal advisors, lack of access to the evidence, and therefore a lack of ability to mount any useful defense. But would that really matter, because innocent or guilty it does not matter, as an Enemy Combatant he is not going anywhere.  Does this mean that we have now become the new USSR or the new China?

Simon Barrett

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