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If the world press corps had reported that Osama bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, had been convicted and summarily hanged by the military tribunal in Guantanamo, I doubt the media could have been more outraged:

“A Mixed Verdict on Hamdan” the L.A. Times headlined it.

In its op-ed piece, it expressed relief that at least Hamdan was only convicted on one count. Still, according to the Times’ editors, “the trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan fell short of the highest traditions of American justice, and even if he files a successful appeal, he would not be set free.”

I had to read it carefully to be sure it was talking about Osama bin Laden’s driver, on trial, for all intents and purposes, for BEING Osama’s “driver.” The lead paragraph made it sound like some guy named Hamdan may have been wrongly convicted of making an illegal left turn during rush hour.

But no. The Times was referring to Salim Hamdan, who was on trial for providing material support to al-Qaida and for conspiracy. As Osama’s driver, Hamdan facilitated meetings between Osama and his henchmen by driving him to them.

He helped Osama elude capture after the Sept. 11 attacks. As Osama’s bodyguard, he was sworn to protect him to the cost of his own life. To that end, Hamdan carried weapons for use against U.S. forces seeking bin Laden’s capture – including two rocket launchers he had in his trunk when captured.

It was that Hamdan whose conviction the Times’ lamented as an American “miscarriage of justice.”

Even more mysterious to me was the number of mainstream media that seem to share both the L.A. Times’ sympathy for Hamdan and the outrage at his conviction. The majority of headlines highlighted the “split verdict” as evidence to support the growing urban legend of America, the Criminal Enterprise. Australia: “Both sides claim victory after Osama’s driver convicted.”

The Gray Lady from the planet Xenon: “Panel Convicts bin Laden Driver in Split Verdict” The Gray Lady’s report, which reads as if it were penned by Hamdan’s lawyer (Yup. Hamdan had a lawyer. You paid for him.) exonerates Hamdan, quoting his psychiatrist who testified in Hamdan’s defense and his lawyer’s contention that Hamdan’s role as a driver was just a job for a father of two who “had to earn a living.”

Given that this is the Newspaper of Record for Ground Zero, it was as bizarre as the Jerusalem Post defending Albert Speer as “just an architect trying to earn a living” and criticizing the Nuremberg Court for even putting him on the docket.

But no less bizarre than the Baltimore Sun, many of whose residents work at the Pentagon, who headlined their story “Questionable Justice.”

I can’t put my finger on what it is about America that justifies such blind hatred that it makes people, ummm, what’s the word? Ah. Stupid.

Hamdan was acquitted of the charge of conspiracy precisely because he was given a fair trial. He was afforded legal counsel and the right to appeal. All testimony obtained by coercion was excluded and any testimony permitted required a sworn witness that it was not obtained by threat.

National Review Online was among the few that, not blinded by Bush hatred, also noted that the reason Hamdan was acquitted of conspiracy was NOT because he was railroaded by a kangaroo court – but exactly the opposite.

The jury diligently deliberated for three days, following instructions that the military judge, Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, conceded may have been more favorable to Hamdan than the law required on the key issue of what constitutes a “war crime.” Though the defendant was convicted of providing material support to al-Qaida, the panel acquitted him of a companion conspiracy charge.

It is more than merely fashionable to find reason to make public apology for all things American; it is part of the whole electoral pandering process for this year’s general election.

The military tribunals are “unfair” because one convicted a guy with a trunk full of rocket launchers and Osama bin Laden’s signature on his paycheck of providing material support to terrorists.

America owes the French and Germans an apology because they took the time to learn English and Americans only speak one language.

Suddenly, after 143 years, a Civil War that claimed the lives of more than 300,000 Union soldiers, the Emancipation Proclamation, a constitutional amendment and 50 years of Affirmative Action, the Congress felt moved to apologize on America’s behalf (again) for slavery.

Everybody, it seems, Republican, Independent, Democrat or apolitical, feels the need to apologize for George Bush, or the war on terror, which America somehow is responsible for because terrorists don’t have the same chance to grow up and be president, or some such nonsense.

Don’t apologize for me. I’m glad that Saddam Hussein is no longer dropping Iraqi dissidents into tree shredders. I’m glad that an Iraqi court introduced him personally to Allah. I’m glad that an American military tribunal convicted Hamdan, because it shows it was a court of law and justice.

If the shoe was on the other foot and it were an American facing al-Qaida “justice,” there’d be no trial. No lawyers. No rules of evidence. No guilty verdict. Just a video camera to record his screams while his head is being sawed off by a rusty knife.

Where are the commentaries about that?


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