Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first former Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in federal criminal court, was found guilty of a single count of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property (WashPost) but acquitted of numerous murder and attempted murder charges for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. The outcome was a clear setback for the Obama administration, which could be hard pressed to fulfill its promise to try other Guantanamo detainees in U.S. civilian courts and not rely exclusively on the military commissions set up under the George W. Bush administration.
Several incoming Republican leaders in the U.S. House including Lamar Smith of Texas, set to be Judiciary Committee chairman, and Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, expected chairman of the Intelligence Committee denounced the use of civilian courts for prosecuting terrorism cases (NYT). New York Rep. Peter King, expected to become the next chairman of the House homeland security committee, called the verdict a "total miscarriage of justice." He says Congress must approve any further transfers of Guantánamo Bay prisoners to the United States (Guardian), which is unlikely to happen once his party takes control of the House.
In this CFR roundup from earlier this year, four experts reviewed the legal and political ramifications of the Obama administration's promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
CFR's John Bellinger says the Obama administration has found itself struggling through a political and legal thicket about where and how to try those accused of war crimes.
The BBC profiles Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani.