Ahmed Ghailani has confessed to bombing the U.S. embassy in Tanzania twelve years ago. As he explained to the FBI in a series of 2007 interviews, he bought the TNT used in the explosion. He even identified the man from whom he purchased it — a man who was subsequently located, who corroborated Ghailani’s confession, and who has been cooperating with American and Tanzanian authorities ever since. Ghailani also helped buy the truck and other components used to carry out the suicide attack.
...The bombings made Ghailani, then in his early 20s, an icon of the jihad. He strode al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan and bonded with fellow terrorists, including some who would later conduct the 9/11 attacks. In fact, Ghailani was so highly regarded that he was chosen to serve as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden himself.
The jury won’t be hearing about Ghailani’s confession. It has been reported that, because he was a highly sought and highly placed al-Qaeda operative, Ghailani was subjected to harsh interrogation tactics by the CIA after being captured in Pakistan in 2004....We are not referring here to what Ghailani may have told the CIA under duress; we are talking about the confession he gave the FBI three years later. The FBI does not use the CIA’s controversial tactics.
Clearly, however, the prosecutors in New York do not want the trial to devolve into theater over the CIA interrogation methods. Were the government to try to prove Ghailani’s statements to the FBI, defense lawyers would have latitude to summon the CIA interrogators. They would argue that the CIA’s earlier, rough tactics tainted Ghailani’s subsequent, seemingly voluntary confession. The Justice Department is determined to steer clear of that controversy, and of any criticism that it exploited Bush-era tactics, even indirectly. But there’s a trade-off: The jury won’t learn that Ghailani admitted to planning the bombing, buying the TNT, and being celebrated afterward as an al-Qaeda hero.