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But now Judge Kaplan’s ruling may embolden Mr. Holder to bring more defendants to New York, joining Ghailani and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the admitted Sept. 11 mastermind.

“Assuming the ruling stands, then it gives the administration the option of bringing more Gitmo detainees to federal court for trial,” Charles Stimson, the Pentagon’s top detainee affairs official during the Bush administration, told special correspondent Rowan Scarborough. “Some in the administration may interpret the ruling as a ‘green light’ for more federal cases out of Gitmo. Certainly the [American Civil Liberties Union] and the like will. But hawks and moderates at DOD/CIA will not see it that way.”

Mr. Stimson, a legal analyst at the Heritage Foundation, wrote in 2009 that the Ghailani case is not a war-on-terror prosecution but unfinished business related to the 1998 embassy bombings trial.

This trial will most likely be a carbon copy of the one for Ghailani’s co-conspirators held in 2000 and 2001. That trial took place before Sept. 11, and none of the evidence introduced at trial was gathered as a result of post-Sept. 11 interrogations. The case was not, and will not be, based on information gleaned from interrogations of other detainees, like some of the cases tried before military commissions.

“Civil liberties and liberal groups will be sorely disappointed if they think that there are a lot of Ghailanis at Gitmo,” Mr. Stimson said. “There aren’t. His case is factually unique.”

Contact Bill Gertz at