The one-count guilty verdict against terror detainee Ahmed Ghailani disappointed many Americans who thought the government had a rock-solid case, but civilian courts are still more successful at getting convictions than military commissions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday.
And that means more sentences to satisfy Americans looking for justice against plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and other assaults on U.S. interests, Clinton said.
"I’m well aware, as a former senator from New York on 9/11, how important it is to get this right. I want to see these guys behind prison or executed, whatever is appropriate in the individual cases," Clinton told "Fox News Sunday."
"But when you look at the success record in civilian courts of convicting, sentencing, detaining in maximum security prisons by the civilian courts, it surpasses what yet has been accomplished in the military commissions," she said.
Ghailani, who had been held in a CIA secret prison and then transferred to Guantanamo, was brought up on 284 counts, including the murder of 224 people at the U.S. embassy complexes in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. He was convicted of one count of conspiracy.
The verdict shocked many security experts since most court-watchers thought his would be the easiest terror case to prosecute. The ruling led to howls against the use of civilian courts for terror detainees.
But Clinton said the one count earned Ghailani 20 years to life, and the case would have been tried the same way in both the military or civilian courts.
Clinton acknowledged, however, that for some terror detainees, civilian trials are "not appropriate."
"You will get no argument from this administration on that point," she said, adding that the Obama administration is trying to move toward trials in a way that "maximizes the outcome that is in the best interest of the security of the American people."
"So I don't think you can, as a rule, say, 'Oh, no more civilian trials or no more military commissions.' President Obama's theory of this is that most should be in Article III (civilian) courts, some should be confined to military commissions. But as things stand right now, we have actually gotten more convictions, and more people, more terrorists, are serving time in prison right now, because of Article III courts than military commissions."