It speaks volumes about America and it doesn’t speak well of it. Andrew Sullivan quotes this appalling sentence from a NY Times article:
Mr. Ghailani’s case ended up stiffening resistance to civilian trials because a jury acquitted him on more than 280 charges. Although he was still convicted on one count and sentenced to life in prison, critics pointed to the result as a sign that civilian trials were too uncertain.
I think this speaks very loudly about how little Americans know about the most basic concepts of a free society. The whole idea of a trial is that the outcome isn’t fixed. Nations that demand that trials have a fixed outcome are not free. Sullivan sums it up perfectly:
Have we really sunk to the idea that verdicts in terror suspect trials need to be fixed in advance? And what does that logic say about the fairness of military tribunals? Once more, the 9/11 massacre leads to our suspension of ancient traditions – like habeas corpus, the absolute ban on torture, the Fourth Amendment and an open trial by jury. Al Qaeda could never destroy our values alone. We did it for them.
And we continue to do so, regardless of which political party is in charge. It makes me ashamed.