31 Oct Hamdan’s Sentence Stands — As It Should
As I predicted a few weeks ago, Judge Allred has refused to reconsider Hamdan’s sentence in light of the Bush administration’s argument that he was not entitled to credit for the time he served as an enemy combatant:
A military judge has refused to reconsider the sentence of Osama bin Laden’s former driver, forcing the Bush administration to either release a man it insists is a dangerous terrorist in two months or continue to hold him at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant despite his having served his time after a trial and conviction.
Salim Ahmed Hamdan, 40, a Yemeni captured in Afghanistan in late 2001, was sentenced in August to 66 months for providing material support for terrorism following his conviction by a jury of six officers. But the jury knew that the judge, Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, planned to credit Hamdan 61 months and eight days for the time he had already been held at the military prison in Cuba.
Prosecutors had sought a 30-year sentence, but the jury, unconvinced that Hamdan was anything more than a low-level al-Qaeda figure, came back with a sentence that ostensibly allows Hamdan to be released Dec. 31.
Military prosecutors argued that Allred erred in deciding that Hamdan was entitled to credit for time held. In a ruling Wednesday, which was released yesterday, Allred refused a government motion that he reassemble the jurors and tell them Hamdan is entitled to no credit.
The government has argued that Hamdan’s status as an enemy combatant is separate and independent of any trial for his violation of the laws of war. U.S. officials said that would allow the United States to continue to hold Hamdan beyond Dec. 31. But such a step would likely lead to criticisms that the military commission trials at Guantanamo are meaningless.
Judge Allred was right to reject the government’s ridiculous argument. As I noted in my previous post, the Judge did not credit Hamdan with all of the time that he spent in detention as an enemy combatant, only the time he spent after he was made eligible to be tried by a military commission. By any standard, that 61 months and eight days qualified as pre-trial detention.
ADDENDUM: Is it just me, or does the article read like something from the early days of the war on terror? We know full well that the Bush administration isn’t going to release Hamdan — it’s admitted as much on numerous occasions. And does anyone really believe that the administration cares at this point what the public thinks about the fairness of the military commissions? That horse is long since out of the barn, across the field, and into the glue factory.