|For Immediate Release
January 25, 2011
CONTACT: Kim Smith Hicks, (202) 225-3951
Smith: Ghailani Trial was Close Call
Chairman Calls Terror Trial a “Near Disaster”
Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement in response to the sentencing of Ahmed Ghailani for his role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 224 people and wounded thousands.
Chairman Smith: “I am relieved that Ghailani received life in prison despite all the things that went wrong with his trial. The first foreign terrorist detained at Guantanamo Bay to be tried in civilian courts, Ghailani’s trial was a test run for the Obama administration’s plan to try foreign terrorists in U.S. courts. It was also a near disaster. Ghailani was acquitted of all but one of the 285 counts against him. Despite participating in the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, Ghailani was only found guilty of one conspiracy charge. He was not held accountable for the 224 murders to which he had confessed.
“While the Administration will no doubt try to spin the verdict as a success, the truth is this case was a close call. If Ghailani had been acquitted of just one more count, he would have been considered innocent of these heinous crimes. The trial proved what Republicans have been saying all along: that civilian trials grant foreign terrorists the same rights as U.S. citizens. This makes it harder for prosecutors to obtain a conviction.
“The Obama Administration gambled with America’s security and our ability to ensure justice for hundreds of murdered civilians by bringing Ghailani to trial in civilian court. They just barely won a guilty verdict. And they are fortunate that a federal judge sentenced Ghailani to life in prison.
“This is why foreign terrorists should not be tried in civilian courts like common criminals. They should be tried as enemy combatants in military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.”