A Federal District Court in Manhattan convicted Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani yesterday on one count of conspiracy for the 1998 terror bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. While Ghailani — the first former Guantanamo detainee to be tried in civilian court — was acquitted of more than 280 other charges, he faces 20 years to life in prison.
On cue, conservatives are outraged at the result of the trial (even though he’ll spend time in a maximum security prison for least 20 years), claiming he should have been tried in a military tribunal. Liz Cheney’s group Keep America Safe claimed that “bad ideas have dangerous consequences. … We urge the president: End this reckless experiment. Reverse course. Use the military commissions at Guantanamo that Congress has authorized.” (The Center for American Progress’ Ken Gude notes on the Wonk Room that military commissions “deliver shorter sentences than civilian courts” and “the minimum sentence that Ghailani can receive is longer than the combined sentences” of three of the four detainees who have been convicted in military commissions.)
Yet some have taken the opportunity to take the issue a bit further. On Twitter yesterday, Michael Goldfarb, former McCain presidential campaign flack and current adviser to former governor Sarah Palin, said that Ghailani should have been executed while in CIA custody:
Maybe Goldfarb has taken Glenn Beck’s advice a little too seriously. The radical Fox News host once said that as President, he wouldn’t detain terror suspects, he’d “shoot them all in the head.” Perhaps Goldfarb is an avid National Review reader, where one writer once said that all Gitmo detainees should be let go and then killed. Or maybe Goldfarb has been listening to his former boss over at the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, who said last year of Maj. Nidal M. Hasan after his attack on the Fort Hood Army Base: “They should just go ahead and convict him and put him to death.”
It seems execution without trial is fairly popular in conservative circles.