Osama bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, could be a free man very soon. A U.S. military jury sentenced him to five and a half years following his conviction for supporting terrorism. It was bin Laden’s terrorism, of course, that led to the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans. And Hamdan didn’t just drive bin Laden, he also guarded the master terrorist. His defense is that he was just a working stiff.
Since Hamdan has already served five years, his sentence will be completed in just five months. The maximum sentence for his offense was life in prison.
Once Hamdan has completed his sentence, he can still be held, as I understand it, if the military concludes that he still represents a threat. In this regard, the trial judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, said that Hamdan would likely be eligible for the same administrative review process as other Guantanamo prisoners. This fact does not inspire great confidence. Some of those released from Gitmo have engaged in new acts of terrorism and murder. The leniency instinct seems to be strong within the relevant parts of the military, whether its military jurors or those involved in the administrative review process. Perhaps these folks want to prove to the liberal establishment that they aren’t bad people just because they’re in the military. Or perhaps they want to prove that we’re “different from the terrorists.”
Whatever its root in this context, the spirit of leniency and good will to man spilled over to the trial judge, Capt. Allred. He told Hamdan “I hope the day comes that you return to your wife and daughters and your country, and you’re able to be a provider, a father and a husband in the best sense of all those terms.” Hamdan completed the love-fest with the obligatory “God willing.” How heart-warming.
Unfortunately, the judge has no idea whether Hamdan will provide for his wife and daughters or will strap a bomb to one of them and send her to a crowded market. All the judge knows is that Hamdan supported terrorism, in the form of the world’s leading deadly terrorist, the last time he was free. The jury apparently believes that Hamdan has paid nearly all of his debt for this, but I don’t see how one does that in five and a half years.
JOHN adds: I think it’s one more sign that the “war on terror,” which with all its faults has kept us safe for the last seven years, is winding down. It’s impossible to say what the consequences will be.
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