Tag Archives: salim

Is McCain Lying or Misinformed?

John McCain

Senator John McCain issued this statement after the conviction of Salim Hamdan:

“I welcome today’s guilty verdict in the first trial held under the Military Commissions Act (MCA). This process of bringing terrorists to justice has been too long delayed, but I’m encouraged that it is finally moving forward. I supported that legislation, which was a good-faith effort by Congress to meet the Supreme Court’s direction to establish a process to bring terrorist detainees to trial. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a trusted confidante of Usama Bin Laden, was provided a full hearing of the charges against him and was represented by counsel who vigorously defended him. The jury found that the prosecution lawyers had proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Hamdan had aided terrorists by supplying weapons to Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. This process demonstrated that military commissions can effectively bring very dangerous terrorists to justice. The fact that the jury did not find Hamdan guilty of all of the charges brought against him demonstrates that the jury weighed the evidence carefully. Unlike Senator Obama who voted against the MCA and favors giving Al Qaeda terrorists direct access to U.S. civilian courts to contest their detention, I recognize that we cannot treat dangerous terrorists captured on the battlefield as we would common criminals.”

Nice statement. Very nice statement. Strong, forceful. Clear. And clearly wrong! “Hamdan had aided terrorists by supplying weapons to Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan,” according to McCain. What? Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a deliberate attempt to confuse the public.

As the Washington Post article said, “The military jury of five men and one woman found Hamdan guilty of supporting al-Qaeda by driving and guarding bin Laden and ferrying weapons for the terrorist group.” He did not supply weapons. The jury did not find him guilty of supplying weapons. If they did, he would have gotten the death penalty, or at least life in prison. He got neither. So, my question is does McCain think that we are stupid?

Another Failure for the Bush Administration

By now, it is hard to keep up with the vast amount of failures that the Bush administration has accumulated. Two of these failures arrived in the lap of the American people at the same time. The first is the anthrax investigation. The second is the trial of Salim Hamdan (I’ll talk about this later).

After almost 7 years, an unknown number of man-hours and the huge cost of this investigation (must be in the tens of millions of dollars), the FBI concludes that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was the sole person responsible for the anthrax letters. Over the last several days, there’s been lots of speculation but yesterday, the FBI is basically closed the case. Unfortunately, this whole incident looks like an old Alfred Hitchcock TV show plot: “As the confused but brilliant scientist lays gasping for breath on the floor after taking an overdose, the camera pulls back to see a shadowy figure in the foreground with the queer smile on his lips. He walks out of sight as the credits roll.” This is crazy.

When all is said and done, there was a lot of compelling evidence presented by the FBI. The problem can be found in what was missing, not in what was presented. Most of the letters were written in the handwriting of a very young child. How did Bruce Ivins do that? Although Bruce Ivins had access to the strain of anthrax that was used in the attacks, how did he turn the suspension of anthrax into the lethal powder form (technically very challenging)? Did he have the knowledge to do this? Did he have access to the equipment needed to convert the liquid form into the powder form?

By the way, what was his motive? I’m not buying the flimsy excuse that the FBI tossed to reporters, suggesting that he was worried about losing grant funding for an anthrax vaccine and therefore caused a whole nation to panic over the death of five people. I’m sorry, that just doesn’t make sense. I’ve dealt with a lot of crazy people of my life, including people who were truly schizophrenic. They all had a particular logic that can be followed. Yes, the logic may be bizarre but it could be followed. But, this guy caused nationwide panic so that a grant could be funded?

Finally, what I believe is the biggest flaw in the government’s case is describing how all of this accomplished without any help. Our government has tried on multiple occasions to get us to believe that some catastrophe was caused by one lone crazed madman. Whether it was the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the common thread is that the government is telling us that only one person did it. I find it hard to imagine that one man had all of this expertise. He might have been a brilliant genetic scientist but did he have the skills and the equipment to carry this out.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa has called for a congressional investigation. It will be interesting to see what happens in this investigation. Personally, I’m not sure that Congress is ready for a serious investigation into any wrongdoings. They haven’t seriously investigated anything in the last seven years, why start now?

Glenn Greenwald and Marcy of Emptywheel have some thoughts. Marcy has put together a time-line.