August 7, 2008 | National Review Online

“Guilty … as ORDERED”?

Naturally, I would never suggest that the New York Times stoops to a predetermined editorial narrative with which it proceeds, and toward which it slants news coverage, without a care in the world about what facts actually happen.  But today's 'Guilty as Ordered' rant about the Hamdan military commission trial has to take the cake.  The first paragraph is so shamefully dishonest and misrepresentative of reality as to defy one's necessarily low expectations of the Gray Lady: Now that was a real nail-biter. The court designed by the White House and its Congressional enablers to guarantee convictions of high-profile detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — using evidence obtained by torture and secret evidence as desired — has held its first trial. It produced … a guilty verdict.Of course, the trial also produced a not-guilty verdict.  Was that 'as ordered' too?  If the system was 'designed … to guarantee convictions' how did that happen?

As our take at NRO this morning points out, the trial appears to have been exceedingly fair.  Not only was there no 'evidence obtained by torture' etc., there was actually suppression of interrogation proof derived from coercive questioning that did not come close to torture.  There were also jury instructions that were very favorable to the defendant, and the introduction of exculpatory evidence.  In combination, that probably led to that inconvenient acquittal the Times would prefer not to talk about. 

The tiresome Times bombast, altogether emblematic of what passes for discourse on the Left regarding the serious questions about how combatants should be tried, underscores the best result of the Hamdan commission trial.  As we argue today:

Such caterwauling, however, will no longer fill a void in the public mind. We now have a concrete record of a completed trial that seems to have been scrupulously deferential to Hamdan's right to a fair proceeding.

And if it wasn't, we'll know that soon enough, too. In drafting and enacting the 2006 Military Commissions Act under which this trial was conducted, the Bush administration and Congress provided for multiple levels of appeal, first in the military system, then in the civilian federal courts — the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, the Supreme Court. In these tribunals, we will no longer be talking hypotheticals and hyperbole. We'll be talking about an actual case — the things military justice did do, not scurrilous predictions of what it might do.

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