President Bush has learned something during his nearly-eight years in office.
In a speech yesterday in Thailand he said; China will change on its own terms and in keeping with its own history and traditions. Yet change will arrive. True. So why did he go on to raise deep concerns about freedom and rights in China at almost precisely the moment that the United States was demonstrating once again how selective is its concern for freedom and rights at home?
At Guantanamo Bay Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver, was found guilty of supporting terrorism by a military jury but not guilty of conspiring to attack civilians. This was the first trial of any detainee at Guantanamo Bay in the seven years since the first enemy combatants arrived there; Salim Hamdan was first charged with the alleged offences more than five years ago. The jury consisted of six senior military officers and some of the trial was heard in closed session; hearsay evidence was allowed and secret documents were tabled; statements made by the accused when under interrogation were allowed even though he was never told that they could be used against him.
In short, this was a flawed trial from start to finish. Even worse is the fact that whatever sentence Salim Hamdan may be given, the United States retains the right to hold him indefinitely until the war on terror is won. Guilty as ordered was the verdict of the New York Times yesterday.