With less than six months remaining before leaving the White House, the Bush administration, desperate to show it had made inroads into Osama Bin Laden's terrorist network has decided to take a gamble by trying Salim Hamdan.
Hamdan, however, was nothing more than a chauffeur, paid to drive Osama Bin Laden.
A military jury has sentenced OBL's former driver to five and a half years in prison for supporting terrorism. Hamdan will be eligible for release in less than six months, if the US government does not decide to hold him indefinitely as an "enemy combatant." Prosecutors had earlier called for Hamdan to serve at least 30 years in jail for providing support to al-Qaeda.
At the time of his arrest Osama Bin Laden's driver was clearly a highly-prized intelligence asset who possessed invaluable information about the movements and perhaps the whereabouts of Bin Laden and other senior al-Qaeda members. He made a serious offer to collaborate in helping to track down his former boss but instead he was held for almost six years in order to become the opening act for what has become an embarrassment for the military prosecutors. One more example of many inexplicable actions we've been witnessing as a result of the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Take for instance the case of Al Jazeera's cameraman, Sami Al Hajj. Another " enemy combatant" who just a few months ago was abruptly released to his native country of Sudan after having been imprisoned for six years without being charged or given a trial. No explanations or apologies were given.
We also recently witnessed a 16-year-old Canadian prisoner weeping in an interrogation video, the first public look at such interviews taking place at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His lawyers accused the United States' military of mistreatment of a minor.
In another bizarre action, we learned during Hamdan's trial that Hamdan's boss, Abdullah Tabarak, the man in charge of Bin Laden's security detail, including bodyguards and drivers, was released from Guantanamo and sent home to Morocco in 2004. However, Hamdan the driver was not. Go figure.
Meanwhile, seven years after the September 11th attacks on America, Bin Laden remains as elusive as ever. According to Pakistani media, there have been reports of Bin Laden at various points in Pakistan's border region, some of them placing him in North Waziristan where the "Pakistani Taliban" is the de facto government. Perhaps these are just reports, or maybe President Bush has forgotten his promise to find and apprehend Bin Laden "dead or alive"...or perhaps he thinks a driver for Bin Laden would suffice.
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV