Added retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Swift, Hamdan's first defense lawyer who was assigned to Guantánamo in 2004 to arrange a plea bargain and instead enlisted pro bono lawyers to take his case to the Supreme Court: "The law was specifically written after the fact to target Mr. Hamdan, and that's where you lose justice.''
Politically, the presumptive presidential candidates interpreted the conviction as fulfilling their campaign positions on military commissions.
Republican Sen. John McCain called the verdict a vindication of a system he had championed in Congress. "We cannot treat dangerous terrorists captured in the battlefield as we would common criminals.''
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama saluted the jury. But he said the fact that it took four years for the historic conviction meant America should turn to traditional civilian or military trials to bring ``swift and sure justice to terrorists.''
In convicting Hamdan on the material support charge, the jury rejected his claim that he was a mere driver, a $200-a-month civilian employee of a Saudi millionaire who happened to be Osama bin Laden.
Prosecutors called him a bodyguard, a key member of al Qaeda's security detail whose job was to floor it should enemies attack bin Laden's motorcade.
In finding Hamdan not guilty of two counts of conspiracy, the jury did not entirely accept the Pentagon's theory that the Yemeni was a key cog responsible for al Qaeda attacks culminating with 9/11.
Prosecutors argued that -- even if he did not know in advance -- Hamdan affirmatively chose not to walk away from bin Laden after the terror attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the USS Cole in 2000 and 9/11.
Neither defense nor prosecution lawyers would say what they would recommend at the sentencing hearing.
First, the defense had psychiatrist Emily Keram tell the jury of Hamdan's ambitions, should he ever be sent home to Yemen from Guantánamo.
She reported him as saying: "I'll take my wife and my daughters and go to the desert with a camel and never talk to anyone again.''
Pressed, she said, he conceded that for a living he'd like to return to his trade. ''I'll try to be a driver,'' she quoted him as saying. "But I'll take what I can get.''
Keram was hired as a defense consultant -- the Pentagon paid her fees -- and met Hamdan about 100 hours across several years.
Still undecided Wednesday night was whether Hamdan himself would address the jury -- possibly in an unsworn statement, which means prosecutors cannot cross-examine him.
Also unclear was whether defense lawyers would play a videotape plea from his wife Saboura, shot earlier this year by Hamdan's current military defense counsel, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, in Sana'a, Yemen.
Hamdan last saw his wife, then pregnant with their second child, on Nov. 24, 2001, as he dropped her off at the Pakistan border to flee the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He was headed north, back to Kandahar, when allied U.S. forces captured him at a roadblock.
Before he was sent to this remote U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba, according to trial testimony, he led federal agents on a tour of al Qaeda safehouses and compounds.