What if a Gitmo detainee is acquitted? It’s hypothetical …
The Obama administration doesn’t want to talk about what might happen if a New York court acquits a Guantanamo Bay terrorism suspect.
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian, Tuesday became the first Guantanamo prisoner sent to the United States for trial. He pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan court.
Ghailani is accused of conspiring to bomb the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, killing 224 people. He had been held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba since 2006.
His transfer to New York was seen as a test case for President Barack Obama’s effort to close the controversial prison for foreign terrorism suspects.
A key question in dealing with the detainees has been whether to try them in military or civil courts. So has the issue of what to do with prisoners who are acquitted.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs refused Tuesday to say whether the administration would set Ghailani free if he was acquitted.
He was asked the question repeatedly at a White House briefing. Here are his replies:
“Well, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals.”
“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about the court cases either.”
“Well, let’s discuss that if it ever comes to fruition.”
“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about how certain cases may or may not play out.”
“I’m not willing to get into playing hypothetical games.”
“I’m not debating legal principles. I’m just not getting into the hypothetical back and forth of what happens on a case.”
“I am not going to get into the hypotheticals about specific outcomes of cases.”
“We will talk about what happens about a verdict when a verdict comes.”
“And I’m, in this specific case, not going to get into those hypotheticals.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Gibbs at a briefing earlier this year); Reuters/Christine Cornell (Artist rendition of Ghailani at hearing on Tuesday in New York)