On the eighth anniversary of the first prisoners arriving in Guantanamo Bay, a lawyer for Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first detainee to be transferred to a civilian court for trial, argued that he should become the first to have his case dismissed.
According to Reuters, Ghailani’s lawyer, Peter Quijano told Manhattan Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan that the government: “clearly chose to ignore his Constitutional rights … and instead chose to transform him from an accused defendant to an intelligence asset and relegated him to a modern-day gulag.”
In one very important way, Ghailani is not typical of the Guantanamo prisoners.
A native of Tanzania, Ghailani had a $5 million price on his head when he was captured in Pakistan in 2004.
He had been indicted in 1998 for the bombing that year of the US Embassies in Africa.
Prosecutor Michael Farbiarz told the judge that Ghailani’s trial had been delayed because he was a valuable intelligence asset and that national security was “weightier, more significant” than Ghailani’s right to a speedy trial. He added that Ghailani and his lawyers could have demanded a speedy trial but hadn’t.
Kaplan didn’t seem to be buying that part of the argument, pointing out it probably would have been a waste of time, given that the Bush Administration had vowed Guantanamo prisoners “would never set foot on American soil. The failure to demand is of less significance than it may be in other circumstances.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of yesterday’s arguments was the disclosure that Ghailani had been tortured. His lawyer told the court that Ghailani had been subjected to “what is euphemistically referred to as enhanced interrogation techniques for 14 hours over a five-day period.”
What adds extra weight to Kaplan’s decision — he didn’t say when he would make it — is the fact it will likely have an impact on the pending trials of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and others charged with the September 11th attacks.