The US Court of Appeals has thrown out the conviction of Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, who was serving a life sentence for “war crimes,” after the prosecution finally conceded that his actions weren’t actually war crimes when he committed them.
Bahlul has been held as an “enemy combatant” since 2002 at Guantanamo Bay on allegations that he served as Osama bin Laden’s personal publicist and produced videos that “glorified attacks against the United States.”
Putting aside the notion that producing videos is “combat,” the law which made “material support for terrorism” a war crime wasn’t passed by Congress until 2006, years after Bahlul was already captured.
Ex post facto laws, which retroactively criminalize actions, are explicitly banned in the US Constitution, and that the courts seem to have finally noticed that is going to have huge ramifications on the military tribunal system.
Prosecutors have already said they plan to drop certain portions of the charges against those accused of 9/11 attacks, but insist that the remaining charges would still be sufficient to execute them once convicted.
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