Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why the trial?

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Michael Dorf,the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University, asks the question. Dorf is the author of No Litmus Test: Law Versus Politics in the Twenty-First Century and he blogs at michaeldorf.org.

Last week, a military jury convicted Salim Hamdan on charges of providing material support to terrorism, while acquitting him of the more serious charge of conspiracy to commit terrorism. Although the prosecution sought a sentence of thirty years to life, Hamdan was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison. With credit for time served, that means that Hamdan will complete his sentence before the end of the Bush Administration.

There is a catch, however. The Pentagon has stated that Hamdan will not necessarily be eligible for release upon the completion of his sentence. Prior to his trial, Hamdan was being held as an enemy combatant, and according to the Administration, he can be detained with that status indefinitely. Indeed, even if Hamdan had been acquitted on all charges, under the Administration’s theory he could still be held indefinitely.

What, then, was the point of putting Hamdan on trial in the first place? The answer is not entirely clear. In this column, I will offer a number of possible explanations, before concluding that the Hamdan case and the broader experience of military custody since 2001 demonstrate the need to re-think the relationship between military detention and criminal punishment.Last week, a military jury convicted Salim Hamdan on charges of providing material support to terrorism, while acquitting him of the more serious charge of conspiracy to commit terrorism. Although the prosecution sought a sentence of thirty years to life, Hamdan was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison. With credit for time served, that means that Hamdan will complete his sentence before the end of the Bush Administration.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2008 at 7:43 pm

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