The answer is: not well. The Embassy Bomber who killed 224 people in the simultaneous truck bomb attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 was acquitted in a Manhattan Federal District Court of all but one count of a 285 count indictment.
Jennifer Rubin, in Commentary, explains what went wrong.
The acquittal of Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani yesterday on all but one of 285 counts in connection with the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania has once again demonstrated that the leftist lawyersâ€™ experiment in applying civilian trial rules to terrorists is gravely misguided and downright dangerous. The soon-to-be House chairman on homeland security, Peter King, issued a statement blasting the trial outcome and the nonchalant response from the Justice Department:
â€œI am disgusted at the total miscarriage of justice today in Manhattanâ€™s federal civilian court. In a case where Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was facing 285 criminal counts, including hundreds of murder charges, and where Attorney General Eric Holder assured us that â€˜failure is not an option,â€™ the jury found him guilty on only one count and acquitted him of all other counts including every murder charge. This tragic verdict demonstrates the absolute insanity of the Obama Administrationâ€™s decision to try al-Qaeda terrorists in civilian courtsâ€
Congress can start by ending federal-court jurisdiction over detainees. Then they should demand Eric Holderâ€™s resignation â€” preferably before his serially wrong advice causes any more damage to our national security.
As the New York Times explains:
[P]rosecutors built a circumstantial case to try to establish that Mr. Ghailani had played a key logistical role in the preparations for the Tanzania attack.
They said the evidence showed that he helped to buy the Nissan Atlas truck that was used to carry the bomb, and gas tanks that were placed inside the truck to intensify the blast. He also stored an explosive detonator in an armoire he used, and his cellphone became the â€œoperational phoneâ€ for the plotters in the weeks leading up to the attacks, prosecutors contended.
The attacks, orchestrated by Al Qaeda, killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded thousands of others.
But the case was ill-suited to civilian courts, and a key witness was excluded from testifying:
But because of the unusual circumstances of Mr. Ghailaniâ€™s case â€” after he was captured in Pakistan in 2004, he was held for nearly five years in a so-called black site run by the Central Intelligence Agency and at GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Cuba â€” the prosecution faced significant legal hurdles getting his case to trial. And last month, the government lost a key ruling on the eve of trial that may have seriously damaged their chances of winning convictions.
In the ruling, the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court, barred them from using an important witness against Mr. Ghailani because the government had learned about the man through Mr. Ghailaniâ€™s interrogation while he was in C.I.A. custody, where his lawyers say he was tortured.
The witness, Hussein Abebe, would have testified that he had sold Mr. Ghailani the large quantities of TNT used to blow up the embassy in Dar es Salaam, prosecutors told the judge, calling him â€œa giant witness for the government.â€
The judge called it correctly, and explicitly warned the government of â€œthe potential damage of excluding the witness when he said in his ruling that Mr. Ghailaniâ€™s status of â€˜enemy combatantâ€™ probably would permit his detention as something akin â€˜to a prisoner of war until hostilities between the United States and Al Qaeda and the Taliban end, even if he were found not guilty.â€™â€
In other words, what in the world was the bomber doing in an Article III courtroom? He was, quite bluntly, part of a stunt by the Obama administration, which had vilified Bush administration lawyers for failing to accord terrorists the full panoply of constitutional rights available to American citizens who are arrested by police officers and held pursuant to constitutional requirements.
Once again, the Obama team has revealed itself to be entirely incompetent and has proved, maybe even to themselves, the obvious: the Bush administration had it right.