Alleged Al Qaeda Terrorist Trial Begins This Week in NYC Courtroom

When Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was first transferred to New York from Guantanamo Bay last year, House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio called it "the first step in the Democrats' plan to import terrorists into America."

More than a year later, Ghailani remains the only detainee from Guantanamo Bay to be brought to the United States. He's scheduled to go on trial starting this week in lower Manhattan. Jury selection begins Monday.

Ghailani is a Tanzanian accused of helping to bomb two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 that killed 224 people. Like the September 11, 2001 attacks, those bombings have been attributed to Osama bin Laden.

In hundreds of legal charges filed with the federal court in New York, Ghailani is accused of having scouted out the American embassy in Tanzania before it was bombed, assembled bomb materials and escorted the suicide bomber to the site. After the bombings, prosecutors say he fled to Afghanistan and rose up the ranks of al Qaeda, forging documents for the group and working as a cook and a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden.

When he was captured in Pakistan in 2004, U.S. authorities deemed Ghailani a "high-value" detainee and sent him to a secret CIA prison for interrogation, where Ghailani claims he was tortured. Indeed, a variety of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding, were authorized for use by CIA interrogators on high-value detainees.

Ghailani was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. Last year, more than ten years after the embassy bombings, he was transferred to the New York prison. The same prison has safely held such notorious criminals as John Gotti and the blind terror leader Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman.

Critics of Ghailani's transfer warned that his prosecution could be derailed by his abuse in prison and the long delay in bringing him to trial. But the federal judge hearing the case, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, has denied the defense lawyers' requests to dismiss the trial on those grounds.

Last week, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani insisted that it would be safer to try Ghailani in a military commission in Guantanamo Bay than in New York City.

Ghailani has already appeared in court for pretrial hearings, however, without incident. New York City police have said that while they will provide some extra security for the trial, the proceedingswill not require any of the elaborate and costly measures that New York City officials had warned would be necessary for a trial of the 9/11 plotters. After receiving complaints from local business groups about the potential disruption that trial might cause, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that he would take a range of extraordinary security measures, including a flood of uniformed police officers, checkpoints and thousands of interlocking metal barriers. Mayor Bloomberg estimated the cost at $200 million a year, and the Obama administration soon backed away from the plan.

Despite the huge costs and inconvenience predicted for the 9-11 plotters' trial, no such estimates have been made for the trials of any of those accused of carrying out al Qaeda's U.S. embassy bombing attacks.

Four other men have already been tried and convicted in the same New York courthouse for their roles in the U.S. embassy attacks. All were sentenced to life in prison without parole.



Shocked, Shocked, that Giuliani Won't Run for Sen

I'm shocked, shocked, to find that Rudy Giuliani won't be running for the Senate in 2010.

So long, Rudy.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is expected to announce Tuesday he is not running for U.S. Senate or anything else in 2010, effectively ending his storied - and often stormy - electoral career, The Daily News has learned.

The announcement, at which he'll also endorse Republican Rick Lazio for governor, marks the end of a year-long political dance by Giuliani, who mulled bids for governor and then Senate before backing away from both.

Giuliani has a long history of edging up towards big runs before backing down. In 2008, during his impressively unsuccessful Presidential bid, he pulled out of Iowa and effectively pulled out of New Hampshire. He has even backed out of a race for this very Senate seat before, dropping his 2000 Senate campaign in New York against Hillary Clinton.

Then again, it's probably worth taking this report from the New York Daily News with at least a grain of salt -- they did report just last month that Giuliani would be running for Senate in 2010 in preparation for a 2012 Presidential bid.

Update [2009-12-21 22:8:35 by Jonathan Singer]:The New York Times says no Rudy run, too.

There's more...

NYDN: Giuliani Will Run for Senate... then President


Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has decided not to run for governor next - but will run for U.S. Senate instead, sources told the Daily News.


If elected, the source said, he would use that as a stepping stone to run for President in 2012 - and would not run for re-election to the Senate. A Giuliani spokeswoman downplayed the reports.

The polling on the race suggests that this could be a genuine possibility, with Rudy Giuliani leading Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gilibrand by a 51 percent to 40 percent margin in recent Marist polling and a 53 percent to 36 percent margin in recent Siena (.pdf) polling. What's more, considering that Giuliani isn't going to beat Andrew Cuomo, who many believe will end up being the Democrats' gubernatorial nominee, a decision to run for the Senate rather than for Governor makes sense on another level.

Then again, New Yorkers are going to vote for a Senator they know is going to immediately turn around and run for President, a Senator who would almost undoubtedly be an absentee legislator spending more time on the hustings in Iowa than in the halls of Congress? Hard to imagine.

To add... Do remember this: Giuliani hasn't found a big race he hasn't been willing to pull out of for some time. In 2008, Giuliani pulled out of Iowa. He then effectively pulled out of New Hampshire. Long before that he pulled out of the 2000 Senate campaign in New York against Hillary Clinton. Not exactly a track record of being able to withstand the rigor of a genuine campaign.

There's more...

Rudy NOT running for Governor

From the NY Times:  

Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has decided not to run for governor of New York next year after months of mulling a candidacy, according to people who have been told of the decision.

His decision is a blow to many Republican leaders, who had viewed Mr. Giuliani as the strongest potential candidate in a year in which voter anger and anti-Albany sentiment appear to be swelling.

Contenders from both parties have been waiting for months to hear what the former mayor would decide.

This leaves former Congressman Rick Lazio in the driver's seat for the NY Gov. GOP nomination and will stoke the 2012-presidential Giuliani buzz among GOP hard liners.

There's more...

When Stupid Wins: R.I.P., Section 1233

Cross-posted from Blue Moose Democrat.

I'm somewhat of a Blue Dog, but when it comes to reforming America's broken health care system, a system that is failing one third of this country's population:

Senator Chuck Grassley is a two-faced charlatan.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele is a pandering buffoon.
Rep. Virginia Foxx and lobbyist Rudy Giuliani are dishonest fear-mongers.
Media clowns Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Betsy McCaughey are ruthless liars.
Facebook user Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are at best flip-floppers, and at worst, world-class hypocrites.

I do not use these words because these men and women are Republicans; my desire is not to be partisan. There have been good Republicans in the past and there will be good Republicans in the future, just as there have been bad Democrats in the past and there will be bad Democrats in the future. No, I use these charged words because all of these politicians know the facts about the House health care bill and yet have decided to pander to an uneducated public and then write serious legislation based on their own lies.

There's more...


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