Now that was a real nail-biter. The court designed by the White House and its Congressional enablers to guarantee convictions of high-profile detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — using evidence obtained by torture and secret evidence as desired — has held its first trial. It produced... a guilty verdict. The military commission found Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who worked as one of Osama bin Laden’s drivers until 2001, guilty of one count of providing material support for terrorism.The rules of justice on Guantánamo are so stacked against defendants that the only surprise was that Hamdan was actually acquitted on the more serious count of conspiring to kill Americans during the invasion of Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001. The charge on which Hamdan was convicted seemed logical since he did work as bin Laden’s driver. But it was still an odd prosecution. Drivers of even the most heinous people are generally not charged with war crimes.

We are not arguing that the US should condone terrorism or that the guilty should not be punished. But in a democracy, trials must be governed by fair rules, and judges must be guided by the law and the evidence, not pressure from the government. The military commission system, which falls far short of these standards, is a stain on the United States.