The Obama Justice Department has decided not to appeal a judge’s decision to exclude the testimony of a key witness in the trial against Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the man the government alleges was an Osama bin Laden associate who conspired to kill Americans in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The judge decided that, since prosecutors only learned of the witness after the defendant was tortured, the court would not hear his testimony.
The trial is likely to get underway today in the trial against Ghailani.
Conservatives like Liz Cheney were quick to blame the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder for the decision to try him in civilian court. “Instead of a slam dunk, Holder is now facing a catastrophe of his own making,” wrote Marc Thiessen.
But the government is proceeding, and apparently federal prosecutors believe they can get a conviction without the testimony.
“An appeal at this juncture would obviously cause a delay — a delay of uncertain, and perhaps significant, length,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz wrote in a letter to the judge. “Weighing all of the circumstances, the government does not wish to delay the trial in order to take an appeal.”
Farbiarz said the government disagreed with the judge’s decision and that under different circumstances, it would have appealed, according to the AP.
Aitan Goelman, a former federal terrorism prosecutor, told the AP that the Ghailani case will have an impact where other Guantanamo detainees will be tried.
“If something goes dramatically wrong, that could be relatively devastating,” Goelman said.