COMMENTS: Did the Chauffeur Do It?

Salim Hamdan attracted attention on this busy day of news. He is the detainee at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base who is suspected of being Osama bin Laden's chauffeur. After almost seven years of incarceration, he is finally appearing before a military tribunal, charged with delivering surface-to-air missiles to al-Qaeda fighters. CBS' Bob Orr reported on his not guilty plea--he claims he was "merely a driver"--but noted that his defense relies more on the system's injustice rather than the client's innocence: they "may not have complete access to witnesses, or classified information that may help their cases, and questionable evidence produced by harsh interrogations may be used against them." Presumably "harsh interrogations" was Orr's euphemism for torture. On ABC, Jan Crawford Greenburg (no link) predicted that the Hamdan hearing would be "the test case, the trial run" to test the legality of its procedures and the military tribunal itself so that all challenges will have been resolved before graver charges are leveled against the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Even if the tribunal should be acquit, Attorney General Michael Mukasey proposed legislation to deny entry visas to innocent ex-detainees. He received "a chilly reception from Democrats in Congress," noted NBC's Pete Williams.


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